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Novellieri Italiani 










L o 


How Don Diego, being scorned by his mistress, takes 
up his abode in a grotto, and how he comes out 
again I 

An avaricious priest is nicely cheated by certain good 

fellows, who rob him of a fat sheep . . -55 

Gerardo secretly weds his mistress and sets out for 
Baruti. The girts father would give her in mar- 
riage; she swoons with grief, and is buried for dead. 
That selfsame day her true husband returns, and, 
taking her forth from the tomb, discovers that she is 
not dead j whereupon he tends her, and formally 
celebrates his nuptials with her .... 67 

How Signor Didaco Centiglia, having wedded a 
damsel, grows weary of her, and how at her 
hands he meets his death 117 

Of the divers mischances and grievous perils which 

befell Cornelio for the love of his lady . . . 139 . 



Of the sad end of two hapless lovers, one dying of 
poison, and the other of grief j together with sundry 
events ......... 169 

Of a trick played upon the Prior of Modena and his 
monks by an ass which got into the church one 
night . . 235 

Pandolfo del Nero is buried alive with his lady-love, 

and escapes from such peril by a strange chance . 243 

Of the Judge of Luccds intrigue with a lady, and how 
he causes her husband to be put in prison; together 
with sundry incidents . . . . .257 

Simone Turchi, being at enmity with Geronimo Deo- 
dati of Lucca, makes his peace with himj but after- 
wards in unheard-of fashion murders him; and 
is himself burnt alive at Aiitwerp .... 293 

Bigolino, the Calabrian, plays a trick upon the Bishop 
of Reggio, his master, by means of a certain forged 
bill .... 323 

Galeazzo carries off a damsel from Padua, and then 

through jealousy kills both her and himself . . 333 


MATTEO BANDELLO, who deserves to rank 
as the most important of the Italian novellieri, 
was born at Castelnuovo, in Tortona, Piedmont, 
towards the end of the fifteenth century. It was 
doubtless owing to the influence of his uncle, 
Vincenzio Bandello, General of the Dominicans, 
that he was led to choose the Church as a pro- 
fession. While yet a boy, he visited Rome, where 
he joined the Order of the Predicatori, and in due 
course was sent to the famous convent of Santa 
Maria delle Grazie at Milan. His stay there, how- 
ever, was brief, as he was soon called upon to 
accompany his uncle when in his official capacity 
he had to visit the various Dominican convents of 
France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Travel thus 
brought the young monk into touch with the 
world, and so rare an opportunity, at this im- 
pressionable age, of studying men and manners 


was not wasted; indeed it may have served to 
shape his taste for letters. Much of Bandello's 
early manhood was passed at Mantua, where he 
became the tutor and devoted admirer of the 
accomplished, bewitching Lucrezia Gonzaga. In 
Scaliger he also found another distinguished friend, 
and was upon familiar terms with all the most 
cultured, scholarly gentlemen of the time; for he 
could count the illustrious families of Visconti, 
Gonzaga, Da Este, and Sforza as his patrons and 
friends. Statesmen, and not only men of letters, 
recognised his ability, and several princes and 
courtiers entrusted him with important negotia- 
tions of a political nature. During this time Jhe 
had excellent opportunities to collect and arrange 
materials for his famous series of novels, the 
suggestion to compose these having been made 
to him by Ippolita Sforza-Bentivoglio — one of the 
first and most constant of his patrons. 

But his literary work was grievously interrupted 
when, in 1525, the Spaniards routed the French and 
took possession of Milan. As a partisan of France, 
Bandello's father was condemned to exile, his goods 
being confiscated and his house destroyed. Matteo 
himself was obliged to escape, leaving all his papers 


and manuscripts behind. After various vicissitudes, 
he accepted the offer of Cesare Fregoso and his wife, 
Costanza Rangoni, to accompany them to France, 
since in Italy he could find no permanent home. 
Fregoso, at one time a distinguished Venetian 
general, had espoused the French cause, and pos- 
sessed a beautiful chateau at Bassen, near Agen, 
in Aquitaine. jHere with these friends Bandello 
remained, living, as he himself tells us, " tranquilly 
for the muses and for himself." Through the 
influence of friends, some of his manuscripts were 
eventually recovered from the Spaniards, and he 
now spent this period of leisure in revising and 
re-writing his stories with a view to their publi- 

In 1 541 Bandello lost his patron, for Fregoso, 
who had gone to Venice as ambassador of Francis 
I., was assassinated at Milan, by order of the 
Governor, the Marchese del Vasto. However, for 
this misfortune Matteo had a recompense when 
nine years later Henry II. made him Bishop of 
Agen, as an acknowledgment of his allegiance to 
France during the Italian wars. Bandello, never- 
theless, exercised his Episcopal functions as little as 
possible, leaving the government of his diocese to a 


deputy, Giovanni Valerio, Bishop of Grasse, while 
enjoying to the full the pecuniary and social advan- 
tages of his new position. Being thoroughly worldly 
by nature, he preferred to remain to the last a 
citizen of the world, a literary courtier for whom 
the austere seclusion of the cloister had no charm. 

The date of his death is uncertain. The first set 
of his novels, in three parts, appeared at Lucca in 
1554. He had originally intended the renowned 
Aldus to bring them out, but the printer's death pre- 
vented this. In 1573 the fourth part of his novels 
was published, this time at Lyons, as the Lucca 
edition had caused no small outcry in Italy. This 
final instalment may have appeared after his death, 
which certainly did not occur until 1561, if not later. 
In this fourth part Bandello prints the tale of Simone 
Turchi, which his kinsfolk in Lucca had suppressed, 
when it was intended to include it in the 1554 edi- 
tion. Indeed there is no doubt that many of the 
stories, all founded, as their author delights to in- 
form us, upon actual facts, gave grievous offence to 
many Italian families of rank, who could read be- 
tween the lines and identify the actors in many a 
romance of passion and treachery, bloodshed and 
revenge ; and, but for the fact that he remained on 


alien soil and sheltered by the Church, the novelist's 
boldness might have been punished with tragic speed. 
The meagre details of his life leave us at least with 
the conviction that Bandello was a man of scholarly 
attainments. We know that he produced a version 
of the Hecuba of Euripides, that he made several 
translations from the Latin, and that he had amassed 
materials for the construction of an important Latin 
dictionary, which were among the manuscripts lost 
when the Spaniards sacked Milan. He also wrote 
love-sonnets and canti in ottava rima to his patro- 
ness, Lucrezia Gonzaga. But these counted only 
as interludes, as trifles by the way. It was by his 
novels that he determined to achieve a reputation, 
and with unfailing diligence and zeal he made them 
the serious business of his life. 

The interest roused by the Decamerone and by 
Masuccio's tales may have encouraged Bandello to 
win success in the same field. The novella was the 
fashionable pastime of the moment, and Bandello 
sought to make his collection of tales remarkable 
for their vividness and force. Above all he desired 
to base them upon actual fact. "These novels of 
mine," he says, " are not fables but true histories." 
From Masuccio he doubtless took the idea of dedi- 


eating each tale to some illustrious friend, prefacing 
this by an elaborately- written prologue. These 
dedications have their value as showing the reasons 
which led to the writing of this or that story. But 
in the present short selection we have preferred to 
omit them, and let the tales speak for themselves. 

Derived as it was from the French fabliau, at 
that epoch for Italians of all classes the novella 
possessed absorbing attraction. When Bandello 
came forward to contribute to the entertainment 
of his countrymen he brought them a set of tales 
surprisingly varied in detail and in interest, full 
of human nature, and touched with the reckless 
buoyant spirit of the time. Their appeal was im- 
mediate and extensive. By their spontaneous sim- 
plicity and vigour they reached a larger public than 
Boccaccio had been able to allure by his florid, 
more delicately finished work. But then the Tuscan 
intended his Decamerone to belong to literature; 
and to literature Bandello avowedly gave little heed. 
His main intention was to be popular and to amuse. 
Rhetoric and the graces of style he eschews, being 
only eager to get to his incidents and to marshal 
these in such a manner as to hold the reader's 
attention to the last. To point a moral was still 


less a part of his design; entertainment was all. 
Certainly, as a story-teller, as a cunning narrator 
who has absolutely mastered the mechanism of his 
craft, Bandello stands with the very first. If at 
times extravagant and verbose, he never disregards 
the architecture of the tale that he is narrating, but 
presents the incidents rapidly and with a picturesque 
vehemence that often lights imagination and not in- 
frequently transports. 

It has been said that he copied Boccaccio. His 
reverence for that writer's grace of form was in- 
deed so deep that he took the pains to translate 
one of the Decamerone tales into Latin, while appro- 
priating from this work many ornate expressions 
and melodious turns of phrase which had caught 
his fancy. But if somewhat clumsily he imitated 
Boccaccio's manner, the method of Bandello was 
essentially his own. He is far more direct. He 
relates his facts with greater brevity and speed, 
with a vigour and breadth of expression more 
impressive, more convincing in the main than a 
recital which depends upon the elaborate adjust- 
ment of words for its effect. The scholar may 
dislike his rugged, careless, impetuous Lombard 
style, but the student of manners, the humanist 


must admit that as a raconteur Bandelle» knew his 
business thoroughly, and that he performed it with 
quite conspicuous skill. 

It is remarkable that, while all, or nearly all, his 
tales contain the germs of drama, being tragedies and 
comedies in brief, Bandello should himself have no 
dramatic sense. With something of the frank un- 
consciousness of a child he handles his vast materials 
dexterously, almost jocularly, yet with no clear 
perception of their deep tragic and spiritual signi- 
ficance. The tale for him is just a tale, to move, to 
divert one for the moment ; a succession of merry, 
romantic, or grievous events, not the appalling 
picture of the warfare and the shipwreck of souls. 
He is at no pains to bring us into touch with his 
characters, to breathe upon the dry bones and make 
them live. A poet, a psychologist, even within the 
narrow space of a novella, would assuredly have 
done this. Bandello was neither. He could not 
give the touch that transfigures. He was merely 
a fluent, adroit tale-teller, with a power of gra- 
phic description that, were he among us to-day, 
would presently have made him the enfant gate of 
the Fleet Street press. At this point he certainly 
touches our century. To use a slang phrase, just 


for its very expressiveness, he was so tremendously 
" up to date." Indeed, if journalism be to seize the 
topic of the hour and give it to the world in a fresh, 
attractive guise, then we may almost style Bandello 
a triumphant journalist of the Renascence, with a 
keen eye for gossip of all sorts, and an infallible 
instinct for the materials from which good " copy " 
may be spun. 

An interesting sign of Bandello's effort to draw 
character may be found in the Don Diego story, 
where the stubborn Ginevra fills the whole canvas 
and controls the entire action of the tale, until her 
amazing obstinacy disappears at the sudden percep- 
tion of her despondent lover's unswerving fidelity. 
But this is a solitary instance. In most of the 
stories the characters are shadowy, pulseless figures, 
without magnetism, without life. 

In the treatment of purely romantic themes, such 
as the delightful story of Gerardo and Elena, which 
we unhesitatingly include in this selection, Bandello's 
power and ability are best displayed. As an en- 
chanting series of pictures of old Venice, vivid and 
brilliant in colouring as any by Carpaccio, it exhibits 
all the novelist's excellences, while it has few or 
none of his faults. Another tale that deserves un- 


stinted praise is the account of Cornelio and of his 
tragi-comic adventures in Milan. As a faithful study 
of contemporary life, we are bound to value it, apart 
from its absolute naturalness and humour, which 
bring it to the level of the best. At its side may be 
set the story of the hapless Veronese lovers, which 
the bright genius of Shakespeare was afterwards to 
make immortal. 

Shakespeare probably found it in the garbled 
French version of Bandello's tales, published in 1559 
by Boaistuau and his collaborator, De Belleforest, 
which had then a great vogue, and went through 
several successive editions. If these worthies may 
be said to have popularised Bandello, as translators 
they certainly proved themselves traitors, altering 
the stories, substituting climaxes and situations of 
their own invention, while showing a most sublime 
disregard for the author's text. In fact, their book 
was not a translation, but a somewhat pretentious 
paraphrase. From this, however, Shakespeare took 
the theme of his noble tragedy, missing, in common 
with his French guides, the supreme pathos of the 
lovers' death scene as given by Da Porto and by 
Bandello. Bandello makes Romeo drink the poison 
before he rouses Giulietta from her trance, and in 


the first ecstacy of their meeting, he for a time 
forgets that death must soon take him. For the 
dramatist, this surely was a sublime catastrophe; 
had it been suggested to Shakespeare, he would have 
given us a death scene infinitely more touching than 
the one in his play. For in that, Romeo dies before 
Juliet wakes ; and so we lose the moving spectacle 
of their rapturous meeting and their pitiful farewell. 
Bandello, for all his want of insight, recognised the 
overwhelming effect of this climax, and his account 
in its simplicity and directness cannot be matched. 
Though Da Porto used the incidents, Bandello really 
told the Romeo and Juliet story for the first time, 
clearly and fully, so that the tale may be said to 
belong to him : certainly no one has treated it with 
greater success. 

Unlike Cintio, who in his Eccatommiti, by group- 
ing his tales gave them a certain ethical significance, 
Bandello cares nothing for method, for classification, 
but permits a story unspeakably gross in motive 
and treatment to follow close upon one replete with 
tenderness and beauty. Yet a survey of his work 
will soon show us that in effect the two hundred 
odd tales separate themselves rather sharply into 
groups. There are the purely tragic stories which 


appealed to Boaistuau and De Belleforest. These 
preponderate ; and we have sought to give striking 
examples of them in Violante and Simone Turchi. 
There are the suavely romantic tales represented 
here by Gerardo and Elena, Don Diego, and Romeo 
and Giulietta. There are love-tales brightened by 
occasional episodes of an amusing sort, such as 
Cornelio, Pandolfo, and the Judge of Lucca ; and 
then of course we have the humorous stories at 
the expense of the clergy, of which the Avaricious 
Priest, Bigolino, and The Donkey and the Prior 
constitute fair samples. Finally there are the gross 
tales, which, for various reasons, we have preferred 
to ignore. For the humour of Bandello, the humour 
untouched by obscenity, we cannot find much praise. 
It is usually of such a blunt, crude sort, so wanting 
in subtlety, in suggestiveness. Strange indeed is 
it that the polished people of the Renascence, with 
their fine keen sense, should have been readily 
satisfied with such thin, feeble fun, and should 
never have tired of the eternal mockery of the 
eternal friar, nor of the ruthless baiting of the 
greedy bishop. Bandello assuredly gave them of 
such stuff good measure, pressed down indeed, and 
running over. 


The charge of coarseness which, as a writer, Ban- 
dello cannot escape, needs happily in the present 
instance neither substantiation nor excuse, for of 
this we have provided no sample. But, in passing, 
we may note that gross stories were the fashion, and 
that a popular novel-monger was obliged to give the 
public that for which it always craved. To-day, 
we profess to be infinitely appalled by Bandello's 
obscenity, just as his contemporaries seemed horror- 
struck that a bishop, robed in ecclesiastical purple 
and in touch with courts, should deliberately seek 
to cover his Church with shame, by printing in- 
famous tales about the priests. Yet in our virtuous 
disdain let us remember that, if Bandello sinned, 
it was solely in his desire to amuse. Tout pour 
soullas might well have served him for motto. 
Herein, again, he emphasises the force of our fin- 
de-sikle law, which, in the effort to entertain, 
permits us to shock or to scandalise society, but 
absolutely forbids us to be dull. To this rule our 
reverend prelate blandly conforms. 

In conclusion, we must admit that Bandello's work 
is valuable to us as a specimen of the literature 
which found wide favour with all classes in Italy at 
the time of the Renascence. It reflects the whole 


of Italian society, and gives us surprisingly truthful, 
vivid pictures of its manners and its life. Nor by 
any one of his contemporaries has the sheer craft of 
story-telling been more convincingly shown than by 
the worldly, pleasure-loving, genial bishop to whom 
Leandro Alberti refers as virum hi scrtbendo, fiori- 
dum, datum, nìtìdum, emmictum et acciwatum. A 
flattering verdict, which, however, on the whole we 
need not reverse. 


August, 1894. 

HOW Don Diego, being scorned by his 
mistress, takes up his abode in a grotto, 
and how he comes out again. 

JN OT many years ago, in Spain, near the Pyre- 
nees, there lived a lady at her castle there, the 
widow of a knight of most noble birth, and a native 
of those parts. They had an only daughter of great 
beauty, whom they brought up with the utmost care. 
Ginevra the Fair was the name by which all knew 
her, her hair being so fair that it seemed like 
shining threads of burnished gold. About half a 
day's journey from Ginevra's home there was 
another castle, the property of a young knight. 
He also had no father, and for long past his 
mother had caused him to live at Barcelona to 
study letters, as well as the habits and ways of 
a well-bred gentleman. He soon acquired polished 
manners and a graceful bearing, and, besides 
letters, he gave himself up to arms, to such 

VOL. I. A 


purpose that among all the young knights of Bar- 
celona he had few peers. 

A grand tournament was about to be held at 
Barcelona in honour of King Philip of Austria, 
who, passing through France, was on his way to 
Catalonia to take possession of his Spanish domi- 
nions. For this tournament certain young men 
were chosen, one of the chief of these being Don 
Diego, of whom we now speak. Accordingly he 
sent a message to his mother, asking her to 
furnish him with all things necessary for the 
joust, so that at this festival he might show him- 
self with all due honour. The mother, who was 
a discreet woman, and to whom her son was as 
the apple of her eye, sent him money in abun- 
dance and a proper retinue of servants, telling 
him to spare nothing that might do him honour. 
So he provided himself in due course with such 
horses and arms as he needed, and exercised 
himself every day under the guidance of a first- 
rate jouster. 

King Philip came, and was received by the 
Barcelonese with all due honour. In fact, they 
showed him all possible loyalty, he being the 
son-in-law of Ferdinand, King Catholic, who, on 


the death of Queen Isabella, had sailed for Naples, 
and at whose decease King Philip would inherit 
all. The tournament was held, the jousters being 
without exception youths of the highest nobility, 
who had never yet borne arms. The honours of 
the joust fell to Don Diego, and King Philip, 
seeing he was a youth of about nineteen, knighted 
him, and in the presence of all the citizens gave 
him great praise, exhorting him to persevere from 
good to better. 

Upon the king's departure for Castille, Don 
Diego, desiring to visit his mother, whom for a long 
time he had not seen, made the necessary arrange- 
ments in Barcelona, and then set out for his castle. 
His mother gave him loving welcome, and he spent 
all his time in hunting stags and wild boars, of 
which the country was full, at times making ex- 
cursions to the mountains, whence he brought back 
a bear or two. 

One day it happened that, having started his 
dogs in pursuit of certain deer, and following them 
up himself, he came upon several stags in a thicket, 
one of which leaped out into the open, and ran off 
in front of him. Seeing this, he left off chasing 
the deer, and, telling his men to follow him, he 


gave reins to his horse, and hotly pursued the 
new game. Four of his huntsmen, being well 
mounted, followed their master, but they could 
not keep up with him for long, for the jennet he 
rode was very fleet of foot. They soon lost sight 
of him, and he got far ahead. After a time, how- 
ever, his horse began to lose wind, while the stag 
flew ever faster, and gained upon him, at which 
he was greatly discontented. There being none 
of his men near, he blew a loud blast on his horn 
to summon them ; but, as he was so far ahead, they 
could not hear, and, getting no reply to his signal, 
he slowly turned back. Not being familiar with 
the country in those parts he lost his way, and, 
thinking he was making for home, he rode towards 
the castle of Ginevra the Fair, who, with her mother 
and their vassals, had gone out to hunt the hare 
and were coming towards the knight. Don Diego, 
hearing the outcry made by Ginevra's party, rode 
to where the sound came from, and, as it seemed 
to him that none of the hunters were his men, he 
was at a loss what to do. 

It was now near evening, and the sun as it sank 
made all the shadows larger. Don Diego, aware 
that his horse could hardly budge, set himself to 


follow the noise he heard, not wishing to remain 
alone in the open country. Going a little farther, 
he saw a most beautiful castle not more than a 
mile distant, and, near at hand, a party of men 
and women who had just killed a hare. He thought 
that this must be the lady of the castle with her 
retainers. Ginevra's mother noticed the knight, 
whose dress and steed proclaimed him to be a 
person of quality. She saw that his horse was 
overcome with fatigue and could hardly move, so 
she sent a servant to ask who he was. Hearing 
his name, she came forward to meet him, and gave 
him courteous welcome, expressing her pleasure 
at seeing him, not only on account of the good 
reports she had heard of him and of his merit, 
but also for the sake of his mother, who was her 
neighbour and very good friend. 

Evening had come, so she invited him to stay 
the night at the castle, sending a messenger at 
once to inform his mother, who, at not seeing 
him return, might be uneasy. Kissing the hands 
of the lady and her daughter, Don Diego gave 
them many thanks for their courtesy, and ac- 
cepted the invitation. They thus went on to- 
gether towards the castle, another horse being 


found for Don Diego, whose jennet they caused 
to be led, for it was sorely out of breath. They 
talked of various things on the way, and it 
happened that Don Diego, a very comely and 
charming youth, raising his eyes, met those of 
Ginevra as she was about to look fixedly at him. 
In these mutual glances there was such fire and 
force that both fell straightway in love, each as 
it were becoming the other's captive. Don Diego 
gazed in rapture upon the beauteous damsel, who 
may have been from sixteen to seventeen years 
old, and was riding a velvet-housed palfrey with 
great ease and grace. She wore a curiously made 
cap with plumes, that hid part of her hair, while 
the rest curled about her face in two wavy 
tresses, which seemed to say, "Here and here 
only have love and the graces made themselves 
a nest of their own." From her dainty ears there 
hung two jewels of quaint workmanship, and in 
each was a precious Orient pearl. In the centre 
of her broad white brow, a lustrous diamond, set 
in gold, glittered, just as in the calm firmament 
the fair stars gleam. The splendour of her eyes 
well-nigh turned those who beheld them to living 
fire, blinding the gazer, as if he had sought to 


look upon the June-tide sun as it flames at noon 
in a cloudless sky. It was with these that she 
could deal death to every one, or, if she willed 
it, make the dying live. The little nose that 
matched so sweet a face parted her cheeks of 
delicate pink and white that seemed like two 
rosy apples. The lips of her little mouth were 
like rare and shining coral, that, when she spoke 
or smiled, revealed rows of Orient pearls, and her 
speech was of such harmony and sweetness that 
it must have touched the hardest heart to tender- 
ness. But how shall I speak of the beauty of 
her chin, or describe her ivory throat, and marble 
shoulders, and alabaster breast ? I must e'en 
refrain from telling of her slender arms and 
beauteous hands, which, when she drew off her 
perfumed gloves, were seen to be shapely, white, 
and soft. Her way was not the way of many 
women who seem sad and melancholy, so that 
they may appear virtuous, but in manner she was 
bright and gay, though modest and courteous 
withal. A curiously wrought gold chain encircled 
her white neck, hanging down on her breast. Her 
vest was of soft white stuff, quaintly slashed, and 
beneath it shone a robe of cloth of gold. 


As thus they went forward to the castle, Don 
Diego rode on Ginevra's right, according to the 
custom of the country, and, holding her bridle, 
talked with her of various things. When they 
came to the castle, the mother desired her guest 
to rest himself for a time, and he was taken to a 
richly furnished chamber, where his riding-boots 
were drawn off. He had little inclination to rest; 
nevertheless, to please his hostess, he took off 
his hunting dress and put on rich apparel, with 
which she provided him, thinking all the while 
of Ginevra's divine beauty, a beauty such as, it 
seemed to him, he had never before seen. Ginevra 
on her part could not put the young knight out 
of her thoughts, and in the brief sight of him 
which she had had he seemed the handsomest, 
most accomplished and charming youth she had 
ever met. To think of him gave her a new and 
marvellous joy; and finally, though unaware of 
it, she fell passionately in love with him. He, 
on his part, thought of her in like fashion, and 
all unconsciously drank in the amorous poison, 
concluding that, whereas he had gone out to kill 
a stag, he had himself been mortally wounded with 
love's arrow by Ginevra the Fair. 


In the meantime, Don Diego's men, after 
looking for him a long while in vain, had gone 
home, believing that he had returned by another 
way. When they got within half-a-mile of the 
castle, they met the messenger who had come to 
tell Don Diego's mother not to expect him that 
evening. As it was now two hours after sunset, 
the mother, when she knew that her son was so 
comfortably lodged, would not let others go to 
him there for the time being. 

The lovers had not had long to stay in each 
other's thoughts before supper was set ready in a 
banqueting-room whither the knight was brought. 
Here he was graciously welcomed by the mother 
and her daughter, who entertained him with pleasant 
talk. Water was brought, and at the lady's re- 
quest they washed hands, Don Diego, in spite of 
himself, being obliged to sit at the head of the 
table. His hostess sat on the right, and Ginevra 
on his left hand, the others being placed in succes- 
sion according to their rank. The board abounded 
in rare and delicate meats, albeit the two lovers 
could eat little. The hostess caused various wines 
of great price to be drawn, though neither she 
nor her daughter drank wine. It so happened 


that Don Diego had never tasted wine, being thus 
accustomed ever since his childhood, so that they 
all three drank water. But I, my lord, if I had 
been there, I should have done as the others did, 
who all drank wine. For, as I take it, all the 
foods in the world are insipid without wine, and, 
in truth, the better the wine, the greater the relish 
it gives meats. 

The hostess, who was a good talker, led the 
knight to converse upon various subjects, while 
begging him to do justice to her hospitality, and 
thus passing from one topic to another, Ginevra 
also at length took part in the discourse, which 
made her lover think himself in Paradise. Thus 
the supper passed off very pleasantly with good 
cheer and merry talk, and after it was over Don 
Diego spoke for a good while with Ginevra, though 
he dared not reveal his fervent love for her, beyond 
declaring himself her servant, and avowing that 
he would be proud to do her behests. With 
countless blushes the girl modestly thanked him 
for his offers of service, and while she was sensible 
that by his acts and speech he showed a more 
than common affection for her, she did not let 
him see this, so that hereafter she might the better 


observe his real feelings. When sleeping time had 
come, they gave each other the customary good 
night and retired to rest. What dreams the lovers 
had may easily be imagined by those who have 
ever found themselves in such a labyrinth. Sleep 
they could not, but all night long they were a prey 
to their thoughts; now hopeful, and now full of 
fear; first reproving themselves, and anon taking 
courage to pursue their enterprise. Ginevra seemed 
to have detected something, she knew not what, 
in the knight which told her that he loved her» 
and that, if she gave him her love, it would not 
be given in vain : it was this consciousness that 
seemed to add fuel to the flame. Don Diego, who 
found the damsel discreet, and of rare beauty and 
grace, felt in every part of him such ardent affec- 
tion that, despite himself, he was forced to love 
her. Yet if he showed this love and it was unre- 
turned, what then ? She was but a girl, with all 
a girl's modesty, not prone to give too much 
heed to the compliments paid her by young men. 
Still he took comfort in the hope that by faithful 
service he might win her. Such were the thoughts 
that teased the lovers all that night. 

When day came, Don Diego's retainers arrived 


to accompany him to his home. The lady of the 
castle had already risen, and did not wish the 
knight to depart in the morning, having ordered 
the midday repast to be served speedily and with 
due honour. Don Diego easily let himself be 
persuaded to stay, for he hoped to have another 
sight of Ginevra the Fair, who, the better to please 
her lover, had attired herself most richly that 
morning, and yet with such coquetry that every- 
thing about her seemed smiling and gay. Many a 
time she looked in her mirror and consulted her 
waiting-women, lest aught in her dress should 
cause comment, and then she went down into a 
garden where her mother and the young knight 
were walking. When Don Diego saw the damsel, 
he respectfully saluted her, gazing fixedly upon 
her; and, if yesterday he had thought her most 
fair, it now seemed to him that in her all the 
beauty that could be desired in woman, or of which 
poets had sung, was summed up and perfected. 
For this reason he could not take his eyes off her. 
In the same way Don Diego seemed to her the 
comeliest and most charming youth that might 
be found, and thus looking lovingly at each other, 
they fed their eyes with the sweet sight. 


After hearing mass in the castle chapel, they 
went to dinner, and the meal being over, Don 
Diego's servants brought round the horses. The 
knight gave his hostess such thanks as best he 
might, kissing her hands, and declaring himself 
ever ready to serve her. Turning to Ginevra the 
Fair, he humbly kissed her hands also, being fain 
to say I know not what to her; but his great 
love so overcame him, that he could not utter a 
word, nor yet release her dainty little hand. To 
Ginevra this was a sure sign that the knight 
loved her deeply, and she felt within her a 
supreme content, as with trembling voice she 
said, " Signor Don Diego, I am all yours." Then, 
taking leave of all, the knight mounted his horse, 
and with his retainers rode back to his mother, 
telling her of the gracious welcome and the great 
honour with which he had been received. 

Now, between the two widows there was a 
friendship of long standing. They often exchanged 
visits and ate at each other's house. Learning 
this from his mother, Don Diego gave orders for 
a festival, to which Ginevra and her mother were 
bidden. Music, adornment, and the presence of 
fair and noble ladies made the entertainment most 


beautiful and pleasant. The knight danced several 
times with Ginevra the Fair, and little by little 
grew more familiar with her. Whereupon with 
fitting words he began to show her his love, and 
all the passion which for her sake he suffered. 
Though fain to appear coy, she could not succeed, 
and her failure herein made it easy for him to 
see that she burned with love no less than did 
he. After the dance, games were played, the 
knight doing everything he could to please his 
guests, showing all possible honour to Ginevra 
and her mother. 

While endeavouring to assuage the amorous 
fires that burned within them, the two lovers 
did but quicken these, both drinking by mutual 
glances of love's poison. 

Thus the young man continued his attentions, 
going often to the damsel's house, while inviting 
her to his. When the two mothers got to know 
of their love, they were nowise displeased, for the 
knight's mother was ready enough to receive 
Ginevra as her daughter-in-law, while the other 
widow no less willingly would have taken Don 
Diego as a son-in-law. Yet, as it often chances 
that a thousand good schemes are spoilt by the 


scruples which some people have, so it came 
about that neither wished to be the first to make 
a move in the matter. 

Near these castles there lived a wealthy knight, 
Don Diego's great friend, and the young man 
was often on the point of telling him about his 
love and of asking his advice, but he refrained 
through fear of offending his beloved. The in- 
timacy between the lovers had become so close 
that Don Diego went to Ginevra's home almost 
every day, staying there for three or four hours, 
and often supping there, so that every one could 
plainly perceive that they were in love. They 
desired nothing better than to be joined by the 
bond of marriage, yet Ginevra durst not reveal 
her wish to her mother, while Don Diego said 
nothing to his. The parents, for their part, 
thought them both very young, and that there 
was time enough before they need get married, 
so they passed over the matter without saying 
anything, though pleased at the intimacy which 

While matters stood thus, it happened that a 
very beautiful damsel, the daughter of a gentle- 


man of that country, and who frequently visited 
Ginevra's house, fell passionately in love with Don 
Diego, and tried her hardest to make him love 
her. But the knight had surrendered his whole 
heart to Ginevra the Fair, and to this damsel's 
doings he gave never a thought. She became 
possessed of a most perfect hawk, and, knowing 
how much Don Diego delighted in birds of prey, 
she sent it to him as a gift. Thinking little more 
about it, the knight accepted the present, and, 
giving the bearer a pair of hose, he sent a 
thousand thanks to the damsel, together with 
his offers of service. It was then the season for 
hawking at partridges, and as the bird in question 
was of the best sort to be found, small wonder 
if he prized it dear. He had twice sent par- 
tridges as a present to Ginevra, and one day ( 
when going to visit her, he carried the hawk on 
his wrist, speaking of its excellence, and avowing 
that he valued it as his very eyes. As already 
said, the love of these two was well known to 
all, and one day, at Ginevra's house and in her 
presence, the talk turned upon Don Diego, and he 
was praised by all as a gallant and accomplished 
knight. Hereupon a certain Signor Graziano re- 


marked that Don Diego, true enough, was a brave 
fellow, but that he was like the crock-seller's 
donkey, which shoves its head through every 
door. Ginevra wondered much at this speech, 
and begged Graziano to make his meaning plain 
to her. Thinking himself a man of great wisdom, 
he said, "Lady, the potters who go about with 
asses from village to village, selling pots, sauce- 
pans, and earthenware vessels, stop at every door ; 
and our friend Don Diego does the same. He 
makes love to all the girls he sees; and just now 
he is passionately enamoured of Don Ferrando 
della Serra's daughter, from whom he has got a 
hawk which he prizes more than his very life." 
I know not if the dolt said these words of his 
own accord, or if he was set on by others to say 
them; I only know that they brought about great 
mischief, as you shall see anon. 

When Ginevra heard this speech, she left the 
company and went to her room, where she gave 
vent to such jealous rage that she nearly went 
mad. So much indeed did the thing anger her, 
that her love for Don Diego turned to cruel 
hatred, though she never reflected that he who 

said this might have been moved to do it by 
vol. 1. B 


others, or that envy and malice had made him 
speak thus. 

Soon afterwards the knight came as usual to 
visit Ginevra, who, hearing that he had dismounted 
in the courtyard, withdrew to her chamber and 
barred the door. Entering the hall, Don Diego 
spoke for a good while with the girl's mother, 
carrying at his wrist the identical hawk, and tell- 
ing of the marvellous things which it had done. 
Then, seeing that Ginevra did not show herself 
as was her wont, he inquired for her, and was 
told that upon his arrival she had retired to her 
room, whereat he said nothing further. At the 
proper moment he took his leave of the lady and 
departed. Going down the staircase, he met one 
of Ginevra's serving-women, and bade her in his 
name kiss the hands of her mistress. The woman 
knew of their loves, and, ignorant of Ginevra's 
anger about the hawk, delivered his message. 
Ginevra had already heard how he had come 
with the bird at his wrist, and of the wonderful 
praises he had bestowed upon it. For certain, he 
had done this, she thought, to slight her. More- 
over, as she firmly believed that he was paying 
court to the other damsel, she deemed herself 


mocked and scorned by him, and the idea took 
such hold of her that nothing in the world might 
suffice to put it out of her head. Just then the 
serving- woman came in, bringing the knight's 
message of greeting, which the more enraged her, 
so that she exclaimed, "Ah, disloyal lover and 
rash ! After playing me false and leaving me for 
some one in no wise my equal, you even dare 
to come to my house and send to kiss my hands 
the more to spite me! But by God's faith I will 
mete out to you the honour that you deserve ! " 
Whereupon she told the waiting-woman all about 
the hawk, and how Don Diego was paying his 
court to Signor Ferrando's daughter. 

Hearing all these fables and deeming them true, 
the chamber-maid greatly commended her mistress 
for her proposal, thus adding fuel to the fire. The 
wench herself loved one of the young men of the 
house, who, for what cause I know not, had a great 
spite against Don Diego, and was exceedingly vexed 
that he was to take Ginevra the Fair to wife. This 
man, when he knew of Ginevra's anger, pretended 
to have heard on good authority that, but for 
respect towards his mother, Don Diego would 
already have espoused the damsel of the hawk, 


and he made the chamber-woman tell her mis- 
tress this new tale, which she was all too prone 
to believe. 

Having determined to break off this intimacy, 
and to prevent Don Diego from coming any more, 
she summoned a page and strictly bade him take 
his stand on the following day at a certain place 
outside the castle, where he needs must meet Don 
Diego; and when he came up, he was to say, 
" Ginevra the Fair sends me to you, and by me 
bids you get gone to the place whence comes 
your darling hawk, for here you shall no longer 
take partridges nor quails." 

The page went in due time to the place fixed, 
and stayed there until Don Diego came past, as 
usual, when he delivered his message, as com- 
manded. Being of a shrewd wit, the knight right 
well understood its import, and without going fur- 
ther he turned homewards in great dejection. 
Repairing to his chamber forthwith, he wrote such 
a letter as seemed necessary to him, and then, 
taking the hawk, he killed it, and sent it, together 
with the letter, to Ginevra by mounted messenger. 
When the man came before her, Ginevra would 
accept neither hawk nor letter, merely replying 


by word of mouth as follows : " My good man, 
tell your master never to come before me 
again, for his manner of dealing is now quite 
clear to me; and I heartily thank God that 
I have become aware betimes of his scanty 

The messenger duly returned to Don Diego 
with this cruel message, and his grief and dis- 
may can scarcely be described. Bewailing his 
misfortune, he tried a thousand ways to unde- 
ceive Ginevra, and to make her see that she had 
been misled by malicious tongues. But all was 
in vain; she would not let herself be appeased, 
nor lend an ear to her true lover's excuses and 
explanations ; for so firmly had she riveted this 
false opinion in her heart, that to uproot it was 
impossible. Thus, neither letters nor messages 
would she accept at his hands. 

Seeing himself thus treated through no fault 
of his own, and being unable to endure such 
grief, the luckless lover, when he could nowise 
abate the ardour of his affection, fell into such 
a melancholy state that he was like to die of it. 
It was easy to see what ailed him, now that 
he no longer enjoyed his lady's company, as he 


was used; and the two mothers laughed at this, 
deeming it childish frowardness. 

When he saw that he had vainly essayed all 
remedies which might have been of profit to him, 
and holding life in contempt, yet loth to die by 
his own hand, Don Diego resolved to try another 
way, viz., to go far away from the cause of his 
grief, and to wander hither and thither, hoping 
thus to abate his bitter sorrow. Having made 
this dire resolve, he ordered all things to be got 
ready which he thought he should need to bring 
away with him, and caused hermits' dresses to 
be made for himself and a companion, whom he 
intended to take with him wherever he went. 
He also wrote a letter, which he gave to one of 
his henchmen, and said, " I am going abroad on 
business of my own, and I do not wish my mother 
nor any one else to know where I go. There- 
fore, when I have departed, tell my lady mother, 
if she ask for me, that you do not know, but 
that I said I should come back within twenty 
days. Four days after my departure, and not 
before, you are to take this letter that I here 
give you to Ginevra the Fair; and, if she refuse 
to accept it, then give it to her mother. See 


to it, as you value your life, that you do not 
disobey this command." 

The man bade his master have no fear, but 
that all should be done as he ordered; and Don 
Diego then summoned his most trusted servant, 
a man of worth, and versed in worldly matters. 
To him he opened his whole heart as to that 
which he was minded to do. The honest fellow 
greatly condemned his unreasonable resolve, and 
by sound arguments strove to dissuade him from 
such whim; but he did not succeed, for Don 
Diego had resolved to do this. Being aware of 
such resolve, the loyal and loving servant thought 
to make the evil a lesser one by accompanying 
his master, and that with time he might manage 
to drive this fancy out of his head. By always 
stopping with him, he might also guard him from 
a yet more evil mischance. Accordingly, he de- 
clared that he would go with his master and 
never abandon him. Being thus agreed, and when 
all was in readiness, Don Diego mounted a jennet 
marvellously fleet of foot, the servant riding a 
sturdy cob, and carrying the saddle-bags. It 
was about three hours after sunset when they 
started, and they rode on lustily until daybreak, 


when they journeyed by cross roads and unfre- 
quented paths, so as to be seen by no one. Thus 
they fared forward until it was nearly noon, and, 
the month being September, the weather was not 
too hot. 

Being now a long way from his home, the 
knight thought that they might safely refresh their 
horses ; so accordingly they went to a little village 
standing aloof from the main roads, where they 
bought what was necessary for themselves and 
their steeds, giving them a three hours' rest. 
Then remounting, they journeyed on in this way 
for three days, until they came to the foot of a 
high mountain many miles distant from the main 
road. It was a wild solitary country, with trees 
of divers kinds, and abounding in hares, rabbits, 
and other wild creatures. There was also a large 
grotto, spacious enough to hold many people, 
whence issued a clear cool spring. When the 
knight saw this place, it pleased him exceedingly, 
and he said to his servant, "My brother, I would 
have this for my abode, so long as my brief life 
shall last." Whereupon they dismounted, and 
having removed the bridles and saddles from the 
horses they let them stray at will, nor did they 


ever hear aught of them again, for as the beasts 
wandered away from the grotto in search of pasture, 
wolves may have devoured them. The saddles, 
bridles, and other trappings were placed in a corner 
of the cave; and taking off their usual dress, the 
knight and his servant put on hermits' clothes. 
The grotto was very spacious, hollowed out of the 
rock, and they closed the mouth of it with logs 
and branches, so that no beast of prey might enter 
it. Then, as well as they could they made two 
couches for themselves of beech-leaves, and re- 
mained in the cave for many days, subsisting upon 
the flesh of wild beasts, which the servant shot 
with a cross-bow that he had with him. The roots 
of herbs, wild berries, acorns, and the like were 
also their food, and they slaked their thirst with 
the water of the spring, which, as the knight did 
not drink wine, was no great annoyance. 

Thus did Don Diego lead this squalid life in 
the woods, ever bemoaning the harshness and 
cruelty of his mistress, roaming all day about the 
rocks like a wild beast, and, it may be, searching 
for some bear that should take his life. The 
servant did all that he could to catch game, and 


when the moment seemed to him a fitting one 
he would exhort his master to quit this bestial 
life and return home, and treat Ginevra as the 
fool that she was, who knew not her own weal, 
and did not deserve to have the love of so noble 
and rich a knight. 

But when he began this talk, Don Diego could 
not bear to hear ill spoken of Ginevra, and with 
tears and sighs he ordered the servant to discourse 
of other matters. Before long he lost his natural 
colour, and became lean and haggard, so that he 
looked more like a wild man than anything else. 
His brown garment with its cowl, his unkempt locks 
and beard, and his sunken eyes had all so changed 
him, that of his former fashion naught remained. 

Don Diego's mother, not seeing her son at 
dinner, sent to inquire for him, when the servant 
told her that he had gone out riding with one 
attendant, saying that he should return in twenty 
days. Hearing this, his good mother was reassured. 
Four days having gone by since the knight's de- 
parture, the serving-man carried the letter as com- 
manded to Ginevra the Fair. He chanced to find 
her with her mother in the banqueting-hall, when 
with a proper obeisance he put the letter into her 


hand. Perceiving it to be from Don Diego, she 
flung it on the floor, and changing colour said in 
a great rage, "I have already made him under- 
stand that I want none of his letters nor his 
messages!" The mother laughingly exclaimed, 
"This is forsooth a fine fit of anger; give me 
the letter and I will read it." Opening it, she 
read as follows : — 

"Since, lady mine, my innocence has no place 
in your thoughts, and cannot impress aught of its 
true arguments upon your heart ; since, too, by the 
plainest of signs I see that I am irksome to you, 
nay, even that you mortally hate me; and, as I 
cannot bear to be to you in the smallest thing a 
cause of displeasure, I have resolved to get me 
gone far hence from these parts, where neither 
you nor others shall have news of me; and thus, 
though I abide in misfortune, you shall at least 
live on in content. It is of all torments the 
hardest and most grievous to see myself thus 
disdained by you, but a far greater torment it is 
to know that through me or any deed of mine 
(though well done) you are angered or led to bear 
me ill-will ; for my every torment is far less than 
the anguish engendered by one single touch of 


your scorn. Since, then, my frail life may not 
long bear those bitter tortures that I now inces- 
santly endure, ere it cease (which will soon be), I 
have chosen to state, in this my last letter, the 
simple truth of my case, not to bring reproach 
upon you, but as a testimony of my innocence ; 
and, as I would not live in your disfavour, the 
world may at least know that I love, have loved, 
and shall eternally love you as much as any woman 
may be loved by any man, having a steadfast hope 
that, when I am dead, you will, though all too late, 
have pity for me, for that, at the last, you will 
know that I neither did, nor thought to do, any- 
thing that might reasonably vex you. I loved 
you, as you know, not that 1 might rob you of 
your virgin honour, but to have you, if you were 
so pleased, for my wife; and of this there is no 
better witness than yourself. As, now, you have 
shown no anger against me, except on account of 
the hawk which was lately given to me, I here 
tell you that this bird was sent to me as a present 
by Isabella, daughter of Signor Ferrando; and 
not to accept it, as it seemed to me, would have 
been a great discourtesy, since such gifts are usual 
among gentlefolk; but with Isabella I have never 


spoken, except at your house and in your presence. 
Whether she loved me in the way you have ima- 
gined, I know not, since she never spoke of this 
to me ; and, had she done so, it must have been 
clear to her that I had but one heart, which was 
no longer mine to bestow, for this was already 
made over to you as an irrevocable gift. As now 
she knows that in deference to you I killed her 
hawk, giving it as food for the dogs, I think she 
must be sure that I love her not a jot; this also 
should serve to acquaint you with my innocence. 
But a dark thick cloud of cruel and unjust disdain 
has so veiled and blinded your eyes, that it will 
not let you see the truth; nor can I give you 
other proof of my innocence than my heart, which 
is in your keeping. Let it, then, be thus, since 
thus it pleases you. You hating me, I can but 
hate myself; and, as my death will please you, I 
am fain to die. One thing alone grieves me, that 
I, being innocent, the blame must needs light on 
you. My death shall be but as the briefest of 
brief sighs, while your cruelty towards me will 
remain for ever before your eyes. I pray God 
He make you as happy as you would have me 
sad. May God be with you." 


Having read this letter, the lady was greatly- 
amazed, and sorely chid her daughter for having 
brought so noble and gentle a knight to such 
straits, scolding her not a little. But Ginevra was 
so greatly enraged and harboured such hatred for 
her lover that, at the news of his tribulation, she 
seemed to rejoice. Then the lady called Don 
Diego's servant, and asked him how long it was 
since his master had started ; he replied that it 
was five days ago. " Tis well," said the lady ; 
" go, carry my greetings to his mother." She did 
not wish any one except her daughter to know of 
the contents of this letter ; and, when she scolded 
her, they were alone. 

When twenty days were over, and Don Diego's 
mother saw that her son did not return, she waited 
vainly for many more days and was sorely grieved, 
sending to all imaginable places in the hope of 
getting news of him. But she could find out no- 
thing. Having heard something of Ginevra's vexa- 
tion on account of a hawk, she sent to ask the girl's 
mother if she knew aught as to her son's where- 
abouts, and the lady would not tell her of the 
contents of the letter, fearing to plunge her into 
despair. Let those imagine the sort of life which 


Don Diego's unhappy mother led who know what 
a mother's love is for a son, the more so if that 
son be gallant, well bred, and abounding in charm- 
ing ways. Weeping all day long, she called out 
for her lost son like one demented, mourning 
bitterly. Yet she did not die, for grief does not 
kill, that the greater may be the torment. 

Fourteen or fifteen months had now passed 
since the hapless knight had left his home to 
be the companion of wild beasts in woods and 
caves, seeing no man but his servant. The rough 
life that he led, his bitter sorrowing, and the dis- 
tress of mind which gnawed still at his heart, had 
so changed his whole face and mien, that if his 
mother herself had seen him she would not have 
recognised him. And now, Fortune, repenting of 
the manifold indignities which the poor knight 
thus wrongfully had suffered, began to relent. 

It so chanced that the friend in whom Don 
Diego at one time thought to confide was travel- 
ling home from Gascony, and passed through the 
very country where the luckless knight and his 
companion had pitched their woodland abode. 
Missing his way, the gentleman, who was called 
Roderigo, passed by the grotto, where he saw 


various human traces, and when about a bow- 
shot's length from the cave he thought he spied 
some one enter it, but could not rightly discern 
who it was. It was Don Diego, who, returning 
from a place hard by, whither he often went to 
mourn his unhappy fate, had heard the tramp of 
horses, and had taken refuge in the cave. 

Perceiving this, Don Roderigo, aware that he 
had missed the way, ordered one of his men 
to ride on to see who was in the cave, and 
ask for the main road. This the servant did, 
and, noticing that the entrance was barred with 
stakes, durst not approach, far less inquire the 
way, as he thought the place looked like an 
abode of thieves. So, going back to his master, 
he told him of what he had seen, and of his 
doubts. But Don Roderigo, being full of cour- 
age and spirit, and having a goodly company with 
him, rode up to the cavern with all his men. 
Calling out, " What ho ! there ! " he saw the gate 
open and Don Diego's servant come out. So 
changed was he from his former self that he 
really seemed like a wild man of the woods. 

Don Roderigo asked him who he was, and 
which was the nearest way for him to pursue 


his journey. And the servant answered, " We 

are two poor comrades, who, through ill fortune, 

have come hither, and who dwell here, doing 

penance for our sins; but as to what country 

it be, or what road you should take, I can tell 

you nothing." 

Don Roderigo was desirous to enter the grotto ; 

accordingly, with some of his men, he went inside. 

Seeing Don Diego walking up and down, but 

not recognising him, he asked him the same 

question which he had asked of his servant. 

As thus they talked, the men who had come in 

with Don Roderigo walked here and there about 

the cavern, looking at everything. At last they 

spied in a corner two saddles, one of which was 

richly ornamented and curiously wrought. So 

in jest one of them said to Don Diego's servant, 

"Good father hermit, I see here neither horse, 

mule, nor ass, so it were better you should sell 

me these saddles ! " "If they please you," answered 

the other, " take them, gentlemen, and without 

price." Meanwhile, Don Roderigo having talked 

to no purpose with the supposed hermit, called 

out his men, " Ho ! there ! let's be off and leave 

these hermits to God. We must look about us 
vol. 1. c 


elsewhere till we find some one to show us the 
way." Then one of his followers said, "See 
here, sir, are two saddles, of which one is quaintly 
garnished, and seems to have been that of some 
jennet." Don Roderigo made them bring the 
saddles out, and seeing the richer one of the two 
his eyes straightway lighted upon an escutcheon, 
painted in masterly fashion, on the saddle-bow, 
underneath which this motto was written, "Que 
brantare la fé es cosa meux fea." In our tongue 
this means, "Breach of faith is of all things most 
foul." When he saw the escutcheon and the 
motto, he at once knew that the saddle belonged 
to Don Diego, and it flashed across his mind 
that one of the hermits might prove to be the 
long-lost knight. So he gazed intently at both 
of them, yet failed to recognise any likeness 
to his friend, so completely had this wild life 
and incessant grief changed his features. Then 
he asked them how they had come by the 

Don Diego, who knew his friend at first sight, 
and greatly feared to be recognised by him, 
changed colour somewhat at this, and replied 
that they had found them in the cavern. Don 


Roderigo noticed his confusion, and looking closer 
at him spied a mole on his neck. Then, being 
firmly persuaded that this was indeed Don Diego, 
he threw his arms about his neck and embraced 
him tenderly, saying, "Of a truth you are Don 
Diego." The other hermit, who well knew it 
was Don Roderigo, when he saw him embrace 
his master with tears in his eyes, could no 
longer refrain from weeping, and sobbed bitterly. 
At the touch of his dearest friend's embrace, 
Don Diego's eyes also filled with tears, though 
answer he made none. Don Roderigo continued to 
exclaim, " Ay, but you are indeed he ! You are 
my dear friend Don Diego ! " while the hot tears 
made channels down his cheeks, and that which 
words could not express emotion readily revealed. 
So he went on, saying, "You cannot deny it, sir; 
I know you, and I am sure that you are he." 
Thus Don Diego was at last obliged to make 
himself known, saying, "I am indeed that un- 
happy Don Diego, once such a great friend of 
yours; and, since fortune has brought you to 
this lonely place, I beg you to be content with 
having seen me, and then go hence, leaving me 
to finish here what little life remains to me ; 


never reveal the fact that I am alive, and give 
orders to your men to do the same." 

With tears in his eyes, Roderigo answered, 
" I thank God that I have found you, which I 
never thought to do, for your mother and all 
believed you to be dead. Now, make ready to 
return home with me, and rejoice your mother's 
heart. She grieves greatly at your loss, so bring 
comfort to her and to all your friends." 

Many words passed between them, but Don 
Diego would not hear of returning to his home, 
and, taking his friend aside, he told him the 
whole tale of his misfortune and of his resolve. 
When Don Roderigo heard all this, the good 
fellow was like to have swooned for pity, think- 
ing of his own mistress, whom he most ardently 
loved; and that perhaps a like mischance might 
befall him ; he was as one dead, for he pitied 
Don Diego as he would have pitied himself. He 
proposed not to go away without him, trying all 
he could to persuade him to give up so rough and 
bestial a life. But he could never say enough 
to induce him to depart with him, for Don Diego 
still declared that he would never quit the place 
until he had regained Ginevra's favour. 

Matteo bandello 37 

Seeing that to persuade him was a vain task, 
Don Roderigo besought his friend to please him 
at least in this, viz., that he would promise to 
wait in the grotto two months for him, and mean- 
while change his present mode of life, as he had 
good hopes of getting Ginevra to make her peace 
with him. To this he consented. Don Roderigo 
then gave him his own camp-bed which he took 
with him on his travels, and would have him 
change his hermit's dress for his own clothes, 
which were still in the cave. But Don Diego 
said he would not change his clothes until he 
had got back his peace of mind. Don Roderigo 
also left him two of his mounted serving-men 
with sufficient money, so that one or other of 
these might always bring from some neighbouring 
hamlet food and other necessaries to the cave 
until such time as their master should return. 
Then, with many tears, he took his leave of 
Don Diego, and set out for home, being care- 
ful to note the road he would have to take when 
coming back again. As he journeyed, he thought 
of nothing but of his unhappy friend's mischance, 
and blamed the damsel's heartless cruelty. 

On reaching home, he bade all his men say 


never a word about Don Diego, and, being a 
neighbour and frequent guest of Ginevra's mother, 
he visited the castle more often than usual, keep- 
ing a most careful watch upon all the movements 
of the girl's life. To-day, it might be, he heard 
this, and to-morrow that, and he soon found 
out that her trusted confidant was a serving-man 
who had been brought up in the house. So he 
sought to get upon familiar terms with this 
fellow, and by gifts to win his good-will. It 
was not long before in this way he got to know 
all Ginevra's secrets. He thus heard that, after 
her quarrel with Don Diego, the girl had fallen in 
love with a young Biscayan, who held some small 
appointment in his native town, and served in 
her household as carver — a man of many words, 
who gave out that he would have a large 
fortune at the death of certain of his kinsmen. 
He was not at the castle just then, but would 
shortly return thither; and, so soon as he came 
back, Ginevra had settled to go off with him to 
Biscay, accompanied by a waiting-woman and the 
serving-man, her confidant. Don Roderigo was 
astounded at the news of this great folly upon 
which the damsel was bent, and within himself 


he said, "Alas, girl, with what ingratitude and 
cruelty do you repay the long and faithful ser- 
vice of so noble, rich, and brave a knight as 
Don Diego, who loves you far more than his 
own life! But if my powers fail not, I hope 
to thwart your ill-ordered plans, and to let you 
be Don Diego's and not another's." Then he 
said to the man who had told him of the scheme, 
"In truth the girl does well to get herself a 
husband, since her mother seems to care little 
if he marries her or not. She is young, hand- 
some, and of the proper age, and has made choice 
of a gentleman. If he is not as rich as could 
be wished, she at any rate has enough for both, 
as, at her mother's death, she will inherit every- 

After this Roderigo kept on the watch for the 
return of the Biscayan, and in three days' time 
the youth came back with two of his countrymen, 
stalwart fellows, who should accompany him when 
he went off with Ginevra. On the very day of 
his arrival, Don Roderigo was at Ginevra's castle, 
and said to the serving-man who had let him 
know all, " The lover has come back, I see, so 
you will soon be off. When do you start ? " 


"According to that which my mistress told me 
an hour ago," replied the man, "we start on 
such a night at the fourth hour." Having got 
to know this, the knight returned home to his 
castle, where he gave orders to get everything 
ready which he deemed necessary for the purpose 
that he had in view. 

The night being come when Ginevra was to 
escape with her lover, at the fourth hour she 
and her waiting-maid came so softly down by a 
ladder from their window that none heard them, 
and, crossing the grounds, they came to where 
horses were in readiness, when all mounted and 
rode off. Don Roderigo knew the road they would 
take, and with ten sturdy fellows, his henchmen, 
had already posted himself in ambush in a wood 
which was miles away from any habitation. And, 
behold, about two hours before day the fugitives 
approached the ambush, when Don Roderigo rushed 
forth with his men, crying out, " What, ho ! 
traitors ! You are all dead men ! " Then, couch- 
ing his lance, he ran straight at the lover, whom, 
though it was night, he recognised, and, having 
dealt him therewith a deadly blow, he struck 
the point of the lance through his throat again 


and again, so that the poor wretch fell dead. 
When the Biscayans saw that their leader was 
killed, not knowing who had done the deed (for 
the knight and his men wore strange attire to 
prevent recognition), they set spurs to their horses 
and escaped, when Roderigo's men set them- 
selves to take the two women and the servant, 
bidding them fear nothing. Don Roderigo had 
the dead youth placed on his horse's back, first 
plugging the holes in his throat with cloths, so 
that no more blood might come from them. Then 
he ordered all to mount horse and ride on. 

Ginevra shrieked loudly, and made great lament, 
when one of the armed men, who wore a great 
black beard, and two big goggle eyes, that made 
him look like the Prince of Devils himself, rushed 
at her, poniard in hand, and with a fearful voice 
thus threatened her, "I swear to God that if 
you scream I will slit your throat ! Hold your 
noise, for you have got more than you deserve; 
all that is done is for your good, though you 
know it not ! " 

Riding thus, they soon reached a little chapel 
standing off the high-road; here they 'buried the 
dead man as quickly as they could, and then 


pursued their way. About four or five hours 
after daybreak they halted in a thicket near a 
village, sending thither for food and water for 
themselves and their beasts. Ginevra continued 
to weep, and ate hardly anything, being nowise 
able to discover who they were that had carried 
her off. They lodged o' nights in houses far 
from the villages, and none of the fellows were 
allowed to speak with Ginevra or her two ser- 

One night, when they lodged at a hamlet about 
seven miles from Don Diego's cave, Roderigo de- 
spatched a messenger to his friend, letting him 
know all that had happened, and informing him 
that he and his companions would be with him 
next day before the dinner hour. It was about 
fifty days since the hapless lover had been left 
with some hope of regaining his lady's favour. 
During this time he had eaten better food and 
mixed in merrier company, so that he seemed to 
have got back a good part of his old gaiety and 
comeliness. When he learnt from the messenger 
how things stood, he was greatly astonished — 
half beside himself, in fact, at the thought that 
in an hour he should see her whom he so deeply 


loved. He felt his blood boil and his heart beat, 
while a cold sweat overspread all his limbs. In- 
deed, he could scarce contain himself, and was 
quite at a loss what to do. Meanwhile, as they 
approached the grotto, Don Roderigo came close 
to Ginevra, from whom until now he had kept 
aloof; and to her, who still wept incessantly for 
her dead lover and for her own luckless plight, 
he said — 

" I know, my lady, that you will be mightily 
astonished to see me, and it will seem to you a 
most cruel thing that I, your friend, that you have 
never harmed, should capture you on the highway 
and bear you off to wild and lonely places. Yet, 
when you know the cause, I doubt not but that 
you will submit to reason, and so accord me praise. 
As we are now near the place whither I have to 
take you, let me tell you that it was not to rob you 
of your chastity that I brought you here (as you 
know I love another), but to restore to you honour 
and good name, which, recking naught, you were 
about to stain. What I did was for the sake of 
others who, were I in a like trouble, would do the 
same for me. To keep you no longer in suspense, 
Don Diego, whom once you loved so well, and 


who so faithfully loved, yet loves, ay, and even 
adores, you; to him who, unable to bear your 
cruel disdain, in despair has shut himself up in a 
cave, living like a savage, with never a hope of 
again belonging to the world — it is to him that I 
am taking you." 

Then he told her how on coming back from 
Gascony he had found Don Diego in the deserted 
grotto, and how he had planned everything with 
him, begging her to dry her tears, put off her 
wrath, for which there was no sort of reason, and 
receive Don Diego into her usual favour. 

At this speech the despairing damsel was so 
astonished that, in her confusion, she seemed as 
one demented, and she could hardly utter a word. 
Moreover, her grief and fury at the death of her 
new lover were such that, could she have torn 
out Don Roderigo's eyes with her own hands, she 
would willingly have done it. The mere mention 
of him she so bitterly hated seemed to redouble 
her wrath, and bursting with rage she turned 
angrily to the knight, and said, " I know not how 
I can ever forgive such an injury as this which 
you thus disloj'ally have done to me. Do not 
think that, like some low woman, I shall rave and 


scold — this is no place to do so; but I will take 
good care to keep all within my heart; and if 
ever the chance comes to revenge myself, no 
matter how, I will let you know that your work 
was the work of an assassin and not of a knight. 
Enough if I now say that it is not your business 
to take more care of my affairs than I choose to 
take myself. I am free to do what I like, there- 
fore let me go where I please; and, instead of 
assuming the control of other folks' business, you 
will do well to look after your own. Since you 
desire to bring me to where Don Diego is, so 
long as you keep me thus a prisoner, you have 
the power to do so; but you can never force me 
of my own free will to stay with him, nor make 
me love him at all. In sooth, I would liefer kill 
myself than suffer him to enjoy me; therefore, 
you had best let me go with my servants where 
it pleases me." 

The knight endeavoured with many arguments 
to persuade her to do that which was best for her ; 
but all was in vain, so obstinate was she and 
so wrathful. Conversing thus, they came to the 
cavern. Seeing his cruel mistress, who had already 
dismounted, Don Diego threw himself humbly at 


her feet, and with bitter tears besought pardon if 
ever he had offended her. But she, full of venom 
and feminine rage, turned away her face, never 
deigning to look at or to speak to him. 

Seeing this, Don Diego knelt before her, and 
with many prayers and tears thus addressed her : 
"Lady mine, as my sincere fidelity may not gain 
your belief, and as, without your favour, I cannot 
live, deny me not this, at least — the last boon I 
ask of you, viz., with your own hands to revenge 
yourself upon me in such a way as you best 
please. So shall I be exceedingly contented, seeing 
that you would fain be appeased by my blood. 
And, in truth, it were far better to satisfy you by 
dying than to live on in your disfavour. As I 
know that my life vexes you, and that my death 
will please you, it may chance that I shall kill 
myself with my own hand, so that at least I can 
say that for once I contented you." 

Harder grew the damsel than a rock by the 
sea-shore, never deigning to say one word in 
answer to the knight's pleading. Angered beyond 
measure at such cruelty, Don Roderigo now ad- 
dressed the girl, saying, with a stern mien, "I 
see that I shall have to help knead the dough, 


and do what I would rather not. So, listen to 
me, Ginevra, and mark what I say. Either for- 
give the knight who has never offended you, and 
grant him your favour, which in a thousand ways 
he has earned, or expect me to deal cruelly with 
you and yours, forcing you against your will to 
do what you ought already to have done of your 
own accord. I swear to God that there never 
was a woman as ungrateful and as cruel as you. 
Even had he accepted the cursed hawk, as you 
believed in your despite, and had he loved Don 
Ferrando's daughter more than you, do you think 
he would have killed the bird, and come to dwell 
in this lonely place, living in a cave like some 
wild beast ? If he had so desired, what could 
have prevented him from wedding her and lead- 
ing a merry life with her ? It would serve you 
right if he despised you and gave you as food 
to wolves; then you would have good cause to 
lament, and he could soon get himself another 
mistress. If excessive love did not blind him to 
the truth, he might justly reproach you, bitterly 
hating and despising you as his cruel and deadly 
foe, when he thinks how, without cause, you so 
basely forsook him. And, by God! if you had 


but pitched on a gallant as noble, rich, and 
comely as he ! A fine choice you made among 
all the host of gentlemen in our country ! You 
must needs pick up with an inferior, and love 
a penniless, swaggering Biscayan, who never yet 
spoke the truth except by mistake. Methinks, 
when he got you to Biscay, he would have made 
you look after his goats, for everybody knows 
what he possessed, and, even if he had stopped 
at home with only a page to wait on him, he 
would not have had enough to live six months. 
Perhaps you may say, 'But I am rich, and have 
enough to live in a style that befits my station.' 
Remember that your mother is yet a young 
woman, who may live a long while, and that, so 
long as she lives, she is mistress of all the pro- 
perty. Had you taken the Biscayan as your 
husband, she would never have wished to see 
you again; and in this case I cannot tell how 
you would have lived; in fact, you would have 
envied the dead. Forsooth, if Don Diego were 
to take my advice, his affairs would go better, 
and you would be eternally dishonoured, not 
easily finding any one willing to wed you ; for, if 
it came out that you had run off with a Biscayan, 


one of your household servants, who would think 
but that you had been his paramour? Folk are 
far more prone to believe what is bad than 
what is good. However, since Don Diego wishes 
it, let him pursue this love of his, prizing and 
loving you far beyond your deserts. Therefore 
heed what I say; put off this your stubbornness 
and cruelty, and be well advised, so that you do 
not come to that which you would not, for be 
sure that I do not take anything in hand which 
I leave unaccomplished. So, then, I put before 
you water and fire : choose which you like 

At this Ginevra grew harder and more stub- 
born than ever. With a wrathful countenance 
she turned to the knight, and, not as a timid 
girl, but as a woman used to a thousand strokes 
of ill fortune, she haughtily made answer — 

"You have spoken at your pleasure, sir knight. 

Whether for good or ill, I am careless to dispute 

with you; but I would have you know that I 

am ready to suffer all and every cruel torture 

rather than love this faithless man. If, as 

threatened, you give me my death, I shall accept 

this gladly, and so bear my hapless lover and 
vol. 1. D 


husband company whom you have so cruelly 
slain. So begin at whichever end you like; you 
will only find my constancy increase, for neither 
you nor the whole world will ever make me love 
that man." 

These bitter words so overcame Don Roderigo 
that for a while he could hardly believe his senses, 
while Don Diego fell to the ground in a swoon. 
The rest of the company came round about Ginevra, 
saying all they could to soften her heart, but she 
remained for all their words unmoved, like some 
hard rock that faces the waves of the sea. When 
Don Roderigo had in a measure recovered him- 
self, and thought what to do, for he could not 
bear to see his friend in such grief, he said to 
Ginevra with a sigh, "I marvel greatly at you, 
nor can I conceive how such fierce cruelty may 
have its home in the breast of such a maid. It 
seemed to me as if just now I was before my 
own lady-love, and that your barbarous answer 
had fallen from her lips. Hearing it, my heart 
was as if stabbed by a sharp dagger, and even 
now it seems transfixed in every place by spears. 
By my own, then, which is imaginary, I measure 
Don Diego's most bitter grief which ceaselessly 


he suffers for you, so I have determined to rid 
you of annoyance, and with one pain cure him of 
all others which he endures, believing that in time 
he will perceive that what I did was for his wel- 
fare, and that I shall gain universal praise therefor." 
Then turning to his men, he said, "Take this 
cruel damsel to some other grotto hereabouts, and 
deal out to her such punishment as she deserves. 
Moreover, to keep matters secret, cut the throat 
of her two servants, that no one may survive to 
tell the story." 

At this barbarous order, Ginevra, terror-struck, 
gave a piercing shriek, while the luckless servant 
and the waiting-woman wept aloud for mercy. 
Don Roderigo's men made a show as if they 
would carry out their master's orders, when with 
calm, tearless countenance Ginevra said to them 
"My good fellows, prithee kill me alone and 
spare my servants. Why, Roderigo, would you 
put them to death, who have never wronged 
you ? " 

Then Don Diego, recovering himself, motioned 
all to stay, and addressing Roderigo, said — 

"Sir, though I should live a thousand years, 
I might never repay such obligations as are mine 


to you. That is far beyond my power. Yet, 
knowing how much you love me, I beg you to 
do me one favour, and so increase my indebted- 
ness, if ever that were possible. Be pleased, 
then, to escort this my lady to her own home, 
bearing her such company as you would do were 
she your own sister. For grievous though it be 
for me to be scorned by her whom I love more 
than my life, it is yet a far bitterer deeper grief 
to see her afflicted through me. Therefore, in 
order that by her suffering she may not add to 
mine, let her go free where best it pleases her, 
while I will remain in this deserted cave, ending 
here the last few days of my life, comforted at 
least by the thought that she is quit of her 

Passing wonderful indeed is the power of love 
when he is so minded to use that power, and 
often it chances that those things which seem 
impossible he makes light and easy. Her lover's 
devotion, all the misery in which she saw him, 
and the prospect of a cruel death before her 
eyes — these things had not been able to soften 
Ginevra, but now, at his last words, the eyes 
of her understanding were opened, and all her 


obstinacy melted away. She saw how true and 
constant her lover was, and throwing her arms 
about his neck she wept long and bitterly, being 
unable to say a word. Then kissing him, she 
besought his pardon. Of Don Diego's joy let 
those conceive who love, and who perhaps may 
have to suffer a like sorrow. Indeed, all those 
present shared his great gladness of heart. 

After consulting the lovers, Don Roderigo de- 
spatched a trusty messenger to their mothers, 
advising them of what he meant to do. 

Then they dined together in company, and after- 
wards all took horse, and in four days reached 
Don Roderigo's home. At the good news of 
their children, and when they heard what had 
been settled, the two mothers gave out that Don 
Diego and Ginevra the Fair had gone away by 
mutual consent to Don Roderigo's castle, where 
they had been privately married. And to give the 
public ceremony all due splendour and magnifi- 
cence, they ordered great preparations to be made, 
as beseemed their wealth and noble birth. Here- 
upon the lovers, accompanied by Don Roderigo, 
returned to Ginevra's home, being met by Don 
Diego's mother and a noble and goodly company. 


The wedding was then celebrated in sumptuous 
fashion, and Don Diego and his bride looked 
forward to a life of continual happiness, their 
past tribulations seeming to them but as a sweet 

cheated by certain good fellows, who rob 
him of a fat sheep. 

IVlOST affable ladies, and you, courteous gentle- 
men, I would that our friend Messer Andrea da 
Melzi had not been obliged to leave after dinner, 
so that he himself could have told you what now 
I am about to relate, for he is as fine a speaker 
as any in Milan, full of witty sayings, and he 
knows the tale in question far better than I do. 
But in his absence, if you would like to hear 
about the tricks sometimes played upon miserly 
priests, I will endeavour to content you. 

Not many years ago, in the village of Magenta, 
there lived a certain Don Pietro, who was the 
parish priest. He was an elderly man and un- 
speakably avaricious. Though he had a good 
stipend, and, besides this, got a living by the 
daily alms and offerings made for the dead, he 
was always afraid that he would die of hunger. 



He himself would never ask a priest or a novice 
to have so much as a glass of wine with him 
at his house, though he always accepted the in- 
vitations of others, when he ate and drank his 
money's worth, so to speak. At home he was 
wont to have the daintiest fare, and kept an 
elderly woman who was a most perfect cook. 
He was always letting capons be fattened for 
him — the best that could be got in the whole 
village; and when quails were in season he made 
conserves of these to last for the whole year, 
doing the same thing with turtle-doves. Thus, 
in accordance with the season, he always had 
birds and game in the house, and where guzz- 
ling was concerned the glutton never would be- 
grudge money to get himself any tasty morsel. 
Indeed, failing money for this, he would readily 
have pawned cassock, crucifix, consecrated stone, 
and eke the very chalice itself. But though on 
any Thursday evening he found himself head 
over ears in food, do not think that he would 
ever have asked any one to share it with him; so 
that his clerk and housewife and two serving- 
men had a good time of it, and led an easy 
rollicking life. 


Once in November a young gentleman of Milan 
happened to be out of town hunting, in company 
with a friend, and they came to stay about two 
miles distant from where the priest lived. They 
heard of his avarice and of the rich provisions 
which he always had by him in the house; also 
that, among other things, he had been fattening 
up a big sheep which he thought of killing at 
Christmas-tide, so that in the cold weather it 
would keep better. 

On knowing this, our young friend determined 
to rob the priest of his sheep, and eat it in a 
pasty with certain other good comrades of his. 
So he sent for two of his henchmen, fellows that 
would have made a sauce for Satan, and told 
them what he meant to do. One of these wights 
was called Mangiavillano, and the other Malvicino ; 
in war-time they were past masters, both of them, 
in the art of pillaging. They agreed to do all 
that was requisite, and, having got their orders, 
they set about thinking how to steal the sheep, 
so that they might succeed in doing this without 
any noise. So Malvicino said, "Comrade, if we 
but know how to go to work, we're the luckiest 
fellows alive. When snaring that hare yesterday, 


after all that coursing, I passed Giacomaccio Oca's 
farm, and I saw a lot of nuts which they have 
not yet taken indoors. 'Sblood! but we'll go 
and have a peck at them, and make some nice 
garlic sauce, for, without that, the sheep is not 
worth a stiver." " Odds bodikins ! but you're 
right," answered Mangiavillano, "so let us do as 
I propose. About the fourth or fifth hour after 
sunset I will go to Messere's house, and easily 
get into the place where he keeps the sheep. 
First of all I will muzzle it to prevent its crying 
out, and then hoist it on to my shoulders. Mean- 
while, go you and get the nuts, and besides these 
try and see if you can manage to collar two or 
three geese ; old Giacomaccio always has such 
fine fat ones." " Holy Virgin ! " quoth the other, 
"that were a fine stroke, if I could but do it, 
but you know that geese play the very devil, 
hearing the least noise that anybody makes. I 
would rather try and crib four or five hens, 
roosters, as they say that those are fatter than 
the rest." "Go to," replied Mangiavillano, "you 
are an oaf; chickens and capons we have every 
day at our master's house. We want none of 
those, but try and see if you can't get a goose 


or two. Now, the one who does his work first 
must wait for the other inside the old vault with- 
out a cover to it, at the corner of the churchyard 
between the church and the priest's house. I 
have often been in it before, and there are no 
bones of dead men, or anything else, but a few 
stones that the boys sometimes throw into it. 
So the first to get there must go inside." "All 
right," said the other. 

At the hour fixed each went about doing his 
share of the work. Malvicino got to where the 
nuts were spread about, and filled himself a bag 
of these at his leisure. He had hard work to 
steal the geese, for they were too near the farm- 
labourers' quarters, but he managed to get hold of 
three of the plumpest, and, wringing their necks, 
put them with the nuts. Then, bag on back, he 
made for the churchyard, and, seeing that Mangia- 
villano was not there, went into the old vault to 

Now during the day Don Pietro had had a 
bad attack of gout, which, when he got to bed, 
would not let him sleep nor his housekeeper 
either, and he kept moaning and groaning without 
ceasing. The other two servants he had sent 


away on certain business of his own. Mangia- 
villano heard this noise in the house, and conse- 
quently he could not set about stealing the sheep 
as quickly as he would have liked, but had to 
wait until every one should be abed. As the gout 
pains grew ever more excruciating, Don Pietro 
said to his clerk, "Son, I remember that some 
days ago Messer Girolamo Arluno, the doctor who, 
as you know, cured me last summer, sent me a 
bottle of frogs' oil, which he said was excellent 
for soothing the pain when it became violent. I 
put this bottle away in the cupboard of the sacristy, 
always forgetting to bring it home. Light a candle 
and fetch it for me, and God's blessing go with 

The priest's house was a good bowshot distant 
from the church, so the clerk took a lantern, and, 
lighting the bit of candle in it, started for the 
church. Meanwhile Malvicino, being tired of wait- 
ing so long, began to crack the nuts and eat 
them. On getting near the churchyard the clerk 
heard the noise of this nut-cracking, when in a 
trice he took to his heels and ran back to the 
house, where, all pale and trembling, he said to 
the priest, "O Father! I am like to expire, for 


in the churchyard I heard the dead making a 
great noise. Though you were to give me the 
Abbey of Chiaravalle, I would not go to the 
church by myself. I have had one of the finest 
scares that ever anybody had in this world, the 
worst, I warrant, since I was born." "Why, you 
must be mad ! " quoth the priest ; " make the sign 
of the Holy Cross, and do not be afraid. You 
ought to know that the dead are dead, and can 
neither move about nor feel. Go, go, dear son 
of mine, bring me the bottle, so that by using 
the ointment all this pain may cease, and I can 
get a little rest." "That's what you say, Mes- 
sire," replied the terror-struck cleric, " but I would 
not go back there — not for all the gold in the 
world. I know well enough what I heard. Have 
you not often heard it said that the dead do 
mortals harm ? The day that Chiappino del Gatto 
of Monza died, a terrible man was plainly seen, 
black and hideous. There be many who declare 
that sometimes this man appears with a head, and 
at other times without, while often he howls like 
a dog. You may say what you like, I am not 
going to let those spirits get hold of me and do 
me a mischief." 


When Don Pietro saw that the clerk would on 
no account go and fetch the ointment he was 
greatly annoyed, and, being no longer able to 
bear the tortures of the gout, he said, "If you 
have the courage to carry me, I will go with 
you and see what these marvels are of which 
you speak ; but look to it that it be not the old 
wine that makes you rave like this, and see fire- 
flies in November. Yesterday, worse luck, I sent 
away Bettino and Cagnuola, or else, if they were 
here, they would go and get me the ointment to 
remove this pain. But tell me, have you seen 
to the mare and the sheep ? " " Yes, I have," 
replied the clerk. "They are all right, and I 
have locked the stable-door. I could carry you 
well enough to the church and back, if you have 
the heart, for thank God I am big and stout, 
with a fine pair of shoulders." 

So the priest determined to be carried to the 
church, and, donning his fur coat and putting 
hose on his feet, he got upon the clerk's shoulders. 
Mangiavillano in the garden listened to them 
talking as they went along, but when he heard 
that the two servants (about whom he had his 
doubts) were away he muttered to himself, "The 


fat sheep is ours." Moreover when he found that 
the priest was going to be carried to the church, 
he first of all crept noiselessly out of the garden 
and went towards the churchyard, that he too 
might hear all the marvellous things of which 
the clerk spoke. He at once perceived that the 
noise came from the old vault where he had told 
his comrade to wait for him. Vexed at having 
to wait so long, Malvicino was moving about in 
the vault, and the bag of nuts made a rattling 
that in the dead of night sounded somewhat 
alarming. At first Mangiavillano was for running 
away, but, listening closer, he knew that the noise 
was made by his comrade as he kept cracking 
nuts with a stone; and he said to himself, "My 
companion has done his share of the work, while 
I have not even begun mine, but as that old 
devil of a priest is being carried to church and 
there is nobody at home, I could not have a 
better chance. By the body of the Turk, I'll carry 
off the sheep." So he got back through the hedge 
across the courtyard to the stable, which he easily 
opened, and putting the muzzle on the sheep, and 
tying its four legs together, he whipped it on to 
his shoulders and went back to the churchyard. 


Meantime Don Pietro, who sorely wanted his 
gout-salve, had been helped on to the clerk's 
back by the housewife. She walked in front 
with the lantern towards the churchyard, and the 
good clerk followed, puffing and blowing under 
the heavy load that he carried, while the priest 
repeated certain orisons. Malvicino continued 
cracking his nuts with the stone, and when the 
clerk heard him he said, " Now, messire, was I 
raving?" "Just get on," answered the priest. 
As they came close to the vault Malvicino heard 
the clerk's hard breathing, and thought it was 
Mangiavillano overcome by the weight of the 
fat sheep, so without another thought he threw 
down the bag of nuts and jumped out, crying, 
" I am glad you have come, how devilish out of 
breath you are, and isn't he a fat fellow ! " 
Hearing the bag fall and these words, the clerk 
was paralysed with terror. He dropped Don 
Pietro there and then, as he tremblingly answered, 
" Fat or lean, you can take him, for here he is ! " 
So saying he ran off home as fast as ever he 
could, leaving the poor priest lying on the ground. 
But being just as terrified, Don Pietro forgot the 
gout pains, and took to his heels with such alacrity 


that one would never have thought him to be a 
cripple. The housewife also, more dead than alive, 
rushed away, shrieking as loudly as she could. 

Hearing all this, Malvicino could not imagine 
what had happened. Their screams and scuffling 
perplexed him, and he feared that he might 
suddenly be caught there by some one, when, lo 
and behold ! Mangiavillano appeared, bursting with 
laughter at the priest's flight. Recognising his 
comrade, Malvicino went to meet him and said, 
"What in the devil's name was all this that I 
heard?" Mangiavillano told him everything that 
had ensued, and then, with geese, nuts, and sheep, 
they both went back home. 

The young Milanese gentleman when he heard 
of their adventures laughed loudly, and to the 
fat sheep, garlic sauce, and all, due justice was 
done, while the miserly Don Pietro remained 
thus most deftly cheated. But being kindhearted 
and full of courtesy, the gentleman soon after 
managed to indemnify him privately for the loss 
of his sheep, making good to Giacomaccio also 
the theft of his geese and his nuts. Thus they 
both deemed themselves paid back in full, though 
ignorant from whom such payment came. 

VOL. I. E 

GERARDO secretly weds his mistress and 
sets out for Baruti. The girl's father 
would give her in marriage; she swoons 
with grief, and is buried for dead. That 
selfsame day her true husband returns, and, 
taking her forth from the tomb, discovers 
that she is not dead; whereupon he tends 
her, and formally celebrates his nuptials 
with her. 

1 HIS day we have discoursed at length, most 
gracious ladies, and you, courteous youths, of the 
many and various chances which, often beyond all 
human foresight, are wont to happen in love-matters, 
and how that often, when a man has lost all hope of 
achieving that which he most ardently desires, this 
hope revives, and what was bewailed as lost is on 
a sudden regained. And, to those who ponder 
thereon, these accidents are often most marvellous, 
and very difficult of belief to him who considers not 

the unstable nature of earthly things. One, may 

6 7 


be, who has felt sure of attaining the long-wished- 
for end of his enterprise, sees himself suddenly far 
distant from it, and wholly balked of it. Another, 
after long and distressing fatigues, believes his 
labour to have been vain ; and when his mind has 
discarded its first desire, and turns aside into an- 
other way, behold that which he abandoned he 
suddenly finds within his grasp, and he has entire 
possession of what he never thought to gain. Thus, 
in matters human, blind fortune often plays pranks 
at every turn of her unstable wheel; and, if in all 
her acts she be changeful and wayward, it is in 
matters of love that we notice that she is most 

But to show that, as the old saw has it, actions 
speak louder than words, and give a sure guaranty 
of that which is alleged, I would fain here tell the 
story of what once happened in the famous city of 
Venice. Let me say, then, that in this city there 
once lived two gentlemen whom fortune had abun- 
dantly endowed with her gifts, and whose palaces 
on the Grand Canal almost faced each other. The 
master of the one was called Messer Paolo, and he 
had a wife and two children only, a daughter and a 
son. The son's name was Gerardo. The name of 


the other gentleman was Messer Pietro. He had 
no children, except a daughter of about thirteen or 
fourteen years, who was named Elena. Her ex- 
ceeding beauty surpassed all belief, and, as each 
day she waxed in years, her loveliness grew likewise 
in marvellous fashion. Gerardo, who was about 
twenty years old, carried on a secret intrigue with 
the wife of a barber, she being very pleasing and 
well-favoured. Almost every day with his servant 
he passed under the windows by Elena's house 
in a gondola, down one of the side canals, on his 
wonted journey. 

Thus it happened that, as mischances often come 
when least looked for, Elena's mother fell sick, and 
in a short time, to the great grief of her husband 
and only child, she died. On the other side of the 
little canal, opposite Messer Pietro's house, there 
dwelt a gentleman with his wife and four daughters. 
Messer Pietro greatly desired to cheer his daughter 
with pleasant company, and not long after his wife's 
death he sent Elena's nurse with a message to the 
father of the four girls, praying him to let them 
come one feast-day and play with Elena, a request 
which this courteous gentleman granted. Thus it 
happened that, almost every feast-day, the four sisters 


came readily and easily to Elena's house, for, without 
being seen, they crossed the little canal in a gondola, 
and landed at Messer Pietro's door. When together, 
the five damsels played many games fitted to their 
sex and age; among others, they played forfeits, 
which was a game of ball, the ball being thrown 
from one to another, and whoever missed catching 
it, but let it fall to the ground, made a fault and lost 
the game. The four sisters, being from seventeen to 
twenty-one years old, were each of them in love with 
some young man ; and often, while playing forfeits, 
now one, now another, and sometimes all four, would 
run out and look over the balconies at their lovers 
and others as they passed in gondolas along the 
canal. Elena, who was most simple, and had never 
yet felt the amorous flames, grew much displeased 
at this, and pulled them back by their gowns, to 
make them go on with the game. But they, to 
whom the sight of their lovers gave far more joy 
than the ball, cared little for Elena, but stood fast 
by the windows, sometimes flinging flowers or trifles 
of that sort, according to the season, to their lovers 
as they went by under the balconies. 

One day, when teased by Elena for not coming 
away from the balcony, one of her playmates said 


to her, " Elena, if you could taste but a tithe of 
the pleasure that we get in amusing ourselves 
at these windows, by Christ's Cross ! you would 
like to stop there as much as we do, and would 
care nothing whatever for forfeits; but you are a 
simpleton, knowing nothing as yet of such traffic." 
But Elena gave no heed to what was said, and 
kept on calling them back to play with her, just 
as a child would do. 

It so happened that, one holiday, the sisters were 
hindered by some cause from coming to play with 
Elena. So, sad and melancholy, she took her 
stand at one of the windows overlooking the canal. 
She felt very lonely and unhappy at not being with 
her companions as usual. While the simple maiden 
stood thus, Gerardo went by in his boat, to visit 
the barber's wife, and seeing the girl at the window 
glanced up at her. When she observed this, she 
turned towards him, and threw him a merry look, 
such as she had often seen her playmates give to 
their gallants. At this Gerardo wondered much, 
for perhaps until now he had never thought about 
her nor even seen her ; and he returned her a loving 
look, while she, thinking that this was a game, 
repaid him with a smile. Then he passed on, and 


soon the boatman said to him, "Master, did you 
notice that fair damsel over there, and mark how 
she greeted you with smiles and merry glances? 
By the very gospels of San Zachary ! she seems to 
be a far daintier morsel than the barber's good lady. 
I'll warrant that she would give you a night of 
mirth, if not of sleep." Gerardo feigned not to 
have regarded her, and he said to the oarsman, " I 
want to see who she is, and if she is of the sort 
you tell me, turn the gondola round and go very 
slowly past the house." Elena was still there, on 
the balcony, where the youth had first noted her, 
and he, drifting gently past in his open boat,* on 
seeing the lovely Elena, looked up again at her 
and smiled, ogling her amorously. It chanced 
that, behind her ear, she wore a beautiful clove 
carnation ; and taking this out as the gondola passed 
under the balcony, she let the lovely perfumed 
flower fall as near the youth as she could. 

Gerardo, beyond measure delighted at what had 
befallen, picked up the fair blossom, and, making 
fitting obeisance to the damsel, he gaily kissed the 
flower again and again. The scent of it and the 
beauty of Elena took such deep seat in his heart 

* That is, without the felze or cabin. 


that all other amorous fires burning there were in 
a trice put out. In truth, the flames of his love 
for Elena took such strong hold of him that it no 
longer seemed possible, I will not say to quench 
these, but even to abate them in the very least 

Thus, consumed with this new fire, Gerardo gave 
up all dealings with the barber's wife, and sur- 
rendered himself wholly to this sweet and lovely 
girl. But, being very simple, and not having as yet 
opened her breast to the darts of love, she took no 
great heed of Gerardo as he passed her window, 
though it pleased her to see him, as if this inter- 
change of glances were just a game. Every day, 
and five or six times a day, the amorous youth 
passed along this way, but he never could get to 
see Elena, except on a holiday, since the damsel, 
in whom love had not yet been roused, deemed it 
unmeet to play this game on work-days. Loving 
her most ardently, Gerardo fell into grievous dis- 
content, finding no way even to see his beloved, 
far less to show his affection for her by words or 
letters. Thus vainly he burned with great desire, 
trying as best he could on feast-days to reveal to 
her by signs how the flames of love tormented him. 


Of this she understood little. Yet, after a 
good while, her pleasure at the sight of Gerardo 
increased, and she would have had him show him- 
self a score of times an hour, but on feast-days 
only ; and for this reason, to avoid being disturbed 
at these times by her playmates, and rinding greater 
contentment at the sight of Gerardo than at the 
game of forfeits, with some excuse or another she 
managed to get quit of her companions. 

Matters had got thus far, when one day it 
chanced that, as the disconsolate lover was going 
on foot along the roadway or fondamenta, as they 
say in Venice, he saw Elena's nurse, who had 
once been his, knocking at the door of his lady- 
love's house. Being at some distance from her, 
he called out to her, " Nurse ! Nurse ! " But she, 
through the noise of her knocking, could not hear 
his call, and when the door was opened she went 
in. Gerardo hastened to overtake the nurse before 
she entered. Turning round to shut the door, she 
saw him coming, and left it open until he got there. 
Arrived at the threshold, he saw Elena in the court- 
yard, and, whether from the supreme joy of seeing 
himself near her, or from a sudden spasm of the 
heart, he swooned, and fell senseless to the ground, 


his face turning so pale that he seemed a corpse. 
At so sad and unlooked-for a sight as this, Elena, 
with her attendant and the nurse, were terrified, 
and they fell to weeping and calling out for help. 
Urged thereto by I know not what, the damsel 
threw herself upon Gerardo, but the cautious nurse 
soon persuaded her to rise and go into a room 
half-way up the stairs. Then she stooped down, 
and by shaking and rubbing him sought to revive 
Gerardo. She called him by name, but, seeing 
that he gave no answer, with the serving-girl's 
help she drew him inside and shut the door. The 
nurse loved the young man, for she had suckled 
him with her own milk, and in measureless grief 
at this mischance she wept bitterly thereat. 

Hearing her cries, Messer Pietro, who with others 
of the family was within, ran down to know what 
had happened, and the nurse, lamenting, told him 
all. Being a courteous, kindly gentleman, he caused 
the youth to be softly carried upstairs, and laid 
upon a sick-bed, where he tended him as would a 
father. Seeing, however, that no remedy availed, 
he decided to have him taken to his father, Messer 
Paolo. So he put him in a gondola, and sent him 
across the canal, the nurse and a discreet messenger 


going also, to acquaint Messer Paolo with what had 
happened. On hearing the news, and seeing his 
son lie there as one dead, he was overcome by 
great grief, and well-nigh swooned. And of his 
bitter tears and lamentations let those judge who 
should see their own beloved son in such a plight, 
for, though he had a married daughter, Gerardo 
counted as his darling and only son, whom he 
fondly loved. While then the father, the mother, 
and all those in the house wept and made lament, 
the hapless youth was brought to his chamber 
and laid upon the bed. Doctors came to his side, 
and with them a leech of special skill, who dili- 
gently sought by various means to call back the 
living spirit that was lost, and had sought to quit 
its home. After long effort they succeeded in 
making Gerardo draw breath, and by degrees he 
came to. So soon as his tongue was loosed, he, 
stammering, cried out, " Nurse ! Nurse ! " And 
she being there, replied, " My child, here I am ! 
what would you have ? " The youth had not quite 
regained his senses, and imagined that he was 
still running after the nurse, so he called out 
" Nurse ! Nurse ! " but when his wits came back, 
and he saw where he was, with his parents, relatives, 


and friends standing about his bed, and though he 
knew not the reason for this (as one who re- 
members not what has befallen him), he yet had 
sense enough to perceive that this was not a fit 
place to tell the nurse what he desired to reveal 
to her. So, speaking of other things, he declared 
that no further ailment troubled him, which filled 
all his kinsmen with incredible pleasure. When 
asked by his father and the doctors what had 
caused him to swoon, he replied that he knew not 
the reason. 

At last, one by one, they who were in the room 
went out, leaving him alone with the nurse, to 
whom, after many heartfelt sighs, he thus spoke : 
"Sweet mother mine, from the grievous misad- 
venture that has befallen me, you can easily under- 
stand the pass to which I have come, for in truth 
my life must soon reach its bitter end if I do 
not find succour. Nor can I tell whither to turn 
for help, if not to you alone, who, it is plain, hold 
my death or my life in your hands. If so minded, 
you can give me such aid as shall keep me full 
of life and health, but, if you deny me this help, 
you will of a surety take my life and become my 


At these words the kindhearted nurse comforted 
the sorrowing Gerardo, and bade him be of good 
cheer, and try to recover his lost strength. She 
freely promised to do his behests, so far as it lay 
in her power, offering to serve him with all her 
heart, and to help him with all her strength, nor 
ever grow weary in his service. Hearing these 
lavish promises, the youth took heart of grace, and 
gave the nurse great thanks. Then again he 
begged and conjured her as best he might, telling 
her of the strange nature of his love, seeing that 
he knew not the name of his beloved, nor who 
she might be, but only that she was one of the 
five whom he saw on holidays at the windows of 
Messer Pietro's house, sometimes with others, and 
sometimes alone. The nurse gave diligent ear 
to all that Gerardo told her, secretly asking her- 
self who the maid might be with whom he was so 
passionately in love, and she felt sure it must be 
one of Elena's companions, whom she knew to be 
saucy and merry, but of Elena she never thought, 
being so innocent and simple. 

Gerardo was much comforted, and the nurse's 
promises filled him full of hope. They agreed that 
on the next holiday the nurse should stay with the 


girls at the windows to discover which one of them 
was Gerardo's beloved, so that at the proper time 
and place she might, as the saying is, carry fowls, 
or play the go-between; and Gerardo, on that 
particular day, was to pass many times along the 
canal. This was arranged on a Monday, and, albeit 
Gerardo felt in perfect health, he nevertheless, at 
the advice of his father, went to one of the family 
estates on the mainland, which was about six or 
seven miles out of Venice. Here he amused him- 
self in various ways until Friday morning, when he 
returned to Venice. 

When the Sunday, so eagerly awaited by the lover 
and the nurse, came round, Elena's four playmates 
told her that they meant to join her as usual. But 
she had already begun to grow somewhat heated 
with love for the youth, and, since he swooned, 
had always felt I know not what at her heart, being 
full of pity for him, taking pleasure in thinking 
of him, and longing to see him again; so in the 
best way possible she excused herself. And this 
she did so that, if, as she hoped, her lover went 
past, no one should hinder her from seeing him 
at her leisure. 

When the nurse heard that the sisters were not 


coming to play with Elena, she was much grieved, 
not knowing how she should content Gerardo. 
But seeing that, after dinner, Elena grew restless 
and ran to the windows a thousand times in the 
hour, she began to think she must be in love with 
some young man, and to be more sure of this she 
said she would like to sleep awhile. Elena was no 
little pleased, for it gave her greater freedom to stop 
at the windows, and lovingly she begged the nurse 
to rest. When she saw the nurse had retired to 
one room, she at once went to another, so as to 
start upon her longed-for love-game; and herein 
fortune favoured her, as she had hardly taken up 
her post at the window, when Gerardo, who cer- 
tainly did not sleep, but was most vigilant con- 
cerning his matter, began to show himself on the 
side canal. 

The shrewd nurse, who had also taken her stand 
at another window, when she saw the young man 
appear in his gondola, turned her eyes to where 
Elena stood. The girl, seeing her lover, grew very 
joyous, and with certain childish gestures showed to 
him her gladness at his recovered health. In her 
hand she held a bunch of flowers, which, as the 
gondola went by underneath, with a smiling face 


she flung to the young man. The nurse, when she 
saw this, thought that without a doubt it must be 
Elena whom Gerardo loved; and, knowing that if 
they were minded to wed, a marriage between them 
could most honourably be arranged, she came back 
suddenly into the room where Elena still stood, 
looking out at her lover, and said, "What is this, 
my girl, that I have just seen ? What have you to 
do with that young man who but now passed along 
the canal? You're a fine modest girl to stand all 
day long at the windows and throw down nosegays 
to all who come and go ! Woe betide you if ever 
your father were to know of this ! I warrant he 
would deal with you in such fashion that you would 
be envious of the dead." At this sharp rebuke 
the maiden was almost beside herself, knowing 
not, neither daring to say a word ; yet seeing from 
the nurse's face that, though she had scolded her 
sharply, she was not really very wrathful, she flung 
her arms about her neck, and kissing her as a 
child would do, she said sweetly, "Nena" (so the 
Venetians call their nurses), " Nena, my sweetest of 
mothers, I humbly crave your pardon if, in the game 
you saw me playing at, I erred, though myself I 
do not think it. Yet, if you would have me live a 

VOL. I. F 


happy life, prithee hear what I have to say, and if 
it seem to you that in playing I was at fault, then 
give me such chastisement as you think most fitting. 
You must know that my father used on holidays 
to ask the four sisters who live over the way to 
come and play games with me. First of all they 
taught me the game of forfeits, and then they said 
that a far more amusing game was to go to the 
windows, and as young men passed in their 
gondolas to throw down to them roses, carnations, 
and the like. This greatly pleased me, and he with 
whom of all others I chose to play was the youth 
you saw just now. For my part, I wish he would 
often go past, and I know not why you scold me 
for such a game, but if it be wrong I will refrain 

The nurse could hardly hold back her laughter 
when she heard how frankly and simply the girl 
spoke, and determined to bring to a good end this 
undertaking, begun thus in sport. So she answered 
Elena thus: "My darling girl, I would have you 
know that with my own milk I suckled the youth 
who but now went past. His name is Gerardo, 
the son of Messer Paolo, who has yonder fine and 


spacious palace on the other side of the Grand 
Canal. I dwelt there more than two years, and 
this is why I love him as my son, and have 
always been as one of his household, esteemed and 
petted by all. His welfare, his honour, and profit 
I thus desire as much as I do my own, just as I 
also would have you be happy and content in all 
things, and would weary myself to serve you and 
him as much as for any one I know." Then she 
told the girl of the traps that lie hidden under such 
love-games, and how simple maidens and other 
women were tricked and cheated by men, pointing 
out that every woman, no matter of what degree, 
ought to value her honour, and ever guard it with 
all care and diligence. Finally, to reach her point, 
after setting forth many other things, she said that, 
if Elena would give up playing this so-called love- 
game, she would so expedite matters that Gerardo 
should make her his bride. Though still simple 
and pure in heart, the girl had a ready wit, and 
wholly understood all that the nurse had said. Her 
love for Gerardo awoke and grew stronger, and she 
told the nurse that she would be content to take 
him for her husband rather than any other gentle- 
man in Venice. 


On getting this propitious answer, the beldame, 
seizing her opportunity, went to see Gerardo, who 
was in a mood of alternate hope and fear. When 
he saw the nurse coming to him with a glad coun- 
tenance, he took it as a hopeful sign of his purpose 
being achieved, and affectionately greeting her he 
said, "Welcome, sweet mother, what good news 
do you bring to me ? " " The best of news, my 
son," she answered, "if only fortune favour you." 
And then, from the very outset, she recounted all 
her talk with Elena, saying at the end that, when- 
ever he was minded to marry her, the maiden was 
most ready to take him for her husband. Loving 
the girl passionately as he did, Gerardo was well 
satisfied to make her his lawful wife, the more 
so as he knew her to be Messer Pietro's only 
daughter. So, as best he might, he thanked the 
nurse, and they then both took counsel together as 
to the manner and the moment of meeting with 
Elena, and of bringing all to a good issue by this 
much-longed-for marriage. When this was done, 
the nurse went home. 

Elena, who had never known love, yet who tasted 
something within her of its sweetness and fire, 
when she reflected that in a brief while she would 


be her beloved Gerardo's bride, could hardly con- 
tain herself for joy, and a desire prompted her to 
play, when the bridal day came, some game with 
her lover, the which, though she knew not yet its 
nature, she deemed most delightful. Fears, on 
the other hand, seized her, and she grew cold as 
ice at the thought that she was doing this without 
the knowledge or the permission of her father; 
and she dreaded that out of it some great scandal 
might come. Thus her thoughts made war within 
her, now hoping, anon fearing, and then saying 
to herself, "Shall I be thus bold, nay foolhardy 
even, to dare to do such a thing by stealth ? " 
Then, driving this thought from her, she would 
argue, "Yet does it not behove me to do all 
things so that I may have joyous sport with my 
Gerardo?" So she went on inventing various 
schemes and making many decisions, the end of 
all being that she resolved to try and marry her 
lover, come what might. 

The nurse having told her of Gerardo's good 
intention, she was marvellously contented, and after 
various talk they agreed to have a great washing 
one day, when Messer Pietro was away from home. 
All the servants should help in this work, and at 


the fittest time Gerardo was to come there. This 
being settled, he was duly advised by the nurse as 
to the right moment to make his visit. 

Accordingly, at the time fixed when Messer Pietro 
was at the Consiglio di Pregadi, Elena and the 
nurse set all the women-folk in the house to work 
at washing, and kept them so busy with this that 
Gerardo, gently pushing the house-door open, came 
in, and, without being seen by any one, went up- 
stairs to a room of which the nurse had told 
him. She joined him here ere long, and led him 
by a little secret stair to a chamber where Elena 
awaited him. The timid, simple maiden trembled, 
and, overcome by icy fears, she remained motion- 
less, knowing not what to say. Gerardo like- 
wise, being filled with a supreme joy, yet hardly 
master of himself, stood speechless for a space; 
then, taking heart and loosening his tongue, with 
meet obeisance he tremblingly gave her greeting, 
when with a blush she bade him welcome. The 
nurse, seeing the lovers remain silent, laughingly 
said to them, "It seems to me that you desire to 
play the mute, but as you both know why you 
have come here, it were best to lose no time, 
since it seems to me that your desires shou'H 


have honourable fulfilment. See there, at the 
head of this bed, is the image of our glorious 
Queen of Heaven, holding her Son, our Saviour, 
in her arms. Them I pray, as do you also, 
to grant good beginning, better middle, and best 
ending to this marriage, which now by words of 
mouth you conclude." 

Then the nurse pronounced the beautiful words 
which, in accordance with the holy custom of the 
Roman Catholic Church, are wont to be said at 
such nuptials, while Gerardo gave to his beloved 
Elena the ring. Of the joy of this newly wedded 
pair you may judge when the nurse, seeing that 
all had been brought to a good end, counselled 
them to take their fill of pleasure, since they had 
opportunity to do this. Then she left them and 
went below, where the washing was going on. 

When she thought that the lovers had been long 
enough together, she returned to their chamber; 
and they, though not sated, yet wearied, may be, 
were talking merrily as if to heighten their present 
joy. It was then arranged that they should fear- 
lessly meet, until the occasion should come for 
them to proclaim their marriage, here contracted and 
consummated. After many sweet kisses, Gerardo, 


aided and escorted by the sagacious nurse, left his 
bride and quitted the house unseen, being scarce 
able to contain himself for the supreme joy that 
filled his heart. 

At her husband's going, Elena was sad, but other- 
wise had as great happiness as well might be. She 
deemed herself the gladdest woman in all Venice, 
and blessed the hour and the instant when first 
she saw Gerardo. Yet what shall be said of the 
marvellous might of love ? Entering Cimon's breast, 
it straightway changed him from a rude, ignorant, 
savage brute, not a man, to one most courteous, 
gentle, sapient, and humane. So, too, in Elena it 
wrought a change. As she began to get a taste 
for the game of love, and as the divine and amorous 
flames lighted up her heart with their fire, so, too, 
they soon opened the eyes of her mind, and she 
became so shrewd and sprightly, yet so sweet and 
winning in her ways, that, for beauty, grace, and 
womanly charm, she had few who equalled, and 
none who excelled her. As the days went by, 
these goodly qualities increased. 

Gerardo, at the very summit now of his content, 
used to visit his dear wife as often as might be, 
the nurse helping him; and they both led the 


gladdest and most joyous life of any one in the 

While thus they took their fill of happiness, evil 
fortune, that leaves no one long in peace, and least 
of all lovers, prepared for Gerardo and Elena fresh 
troubles and impediments. For well nigh two years 
they had lived the happiest of lives together, and 
now they were to taste the bitterness of misfortune 
at the hands of Fate, who, if lives be calm and 
sweet, is the more prone to spoil them suddenly, 
and without warning. 

It was the yearly custom of the Venetian Signory 
to send certain galleys to Baruti,* and publicly to 
announce their intention of doing this beforehand, 
so that those wishing to take such a voyage should, 
upon making payment to the commonwealth, choose 
such ships as they best liked. 

Messer Paolo, Gerardo's father, being anxious, as 
good fathers mostly are, that his son should have 
closer knowledge of trade, and become more familiar 
with the ways of cities and the dealings of mer- 
chants, took one of the galleons in Gerardo's name, 
at a price, without telling him a word. There was 
a goodly stock of things which Messer Paolo had 
* Beyrout, in Syria. 


in his house, and these his son was to take to Baruti, 
bringing thence other merchandise to Venice. So 
the father thought to increase not a little the youth's 
faculty for trading; and, after finding him a wife, 
he designed to let him manage all the household 
matters, while he could give all his time to the 
service of the Signory. 

The galleon having been secured, one day after 
dinner, when the tables were moved, and he was 
alone with his son, Messer Paolo said, " You know, 
my son, the goods which we have by us to send to 
Baruti, and what merchandise has to be brought 
back from that place. So this morning I have hired 
a galleon in your name, that you may go out and 
see the world, and begin henceforth honourably to 
get worldly wisdom. For nothing sooner sharpens 
the wits of a man than to see different cities and 
places, and to learn the ways and customs of this or 
that nation. Here, in Venice, you will always see 
that those who have traded in foreign parts in the 
East, in the West, or elsewhere, when they come 
home, after doing their business well, are reputed 
to be shrewd men, full of talent and resource ; and 
these, as I say, you will always see are appointed 
to divers posts of honour and power under govern- 


ment. Such advancement, however, is not for the 
careless, who all the livelong day stand idle, and 
spend their time with women of evil life. The 
voyage to Baruti usually lasts six months, or, at 
the most, seven. Therefore, my dear son, have all 
things ready that you need for this journey; and 
whatever you want, I will provide. When you 
come back, we will arrange our affairs in such a 
way as God shall direct." 

Messer Paolo thought that his son would gladly 
answer that he was ready to obey, as he had offered 
him a voyage no less honourable than useful, but 
Gerardo, to whom it seemed impossible to live even 
a day without seeing his love, was greatly grieved 
in his mind, though he showed nothing of the 
chagrin and anger which inwardly he felt. "You 
do not answer me," said his father. " I know not 
what to say," replied Gerardo, "for I would wil- 
lingly obey you, but it is impossible to do this, 
for faring is most harmful to me and contrary. 
Nay, if I went to sea, it would be as if, willingly, 
I went to my death; thus I pray you to pardon 
me, and to accept this, my just excuse, for in 
sooth I am grieved that I cannot obey you." 

Messer Paolo, who never thought to get such an 


answer from his son, was greatly amazed and hurt. 
He tried again to persuade him, now with soft words 
and now with harsh, but his labour was vain, for 
the youth would give no other answer than at first. 
Thus, having risen from table in disaccord, they 
went, one this way and the other that. 

Grieved beyond measure at what had happened, 
Messer Paolo went to the Rialto to find his son-in- 
law, a young man, rich, and of noble birth. After 
much talk, he said to him, "Lionardo" (for so he 
was named), " I had hired a galleon in which to send 
Gerardo with certain merchandise of mine to Baruti ; 
but when I spoke to him of this, he made excuses, 
letting me understand that he cannot go thither. 
So, if you are willing to go in his place, we need 
not parley overmuch about it, but you shall have 
whatever share of the gain you like to name." 
Lionardo gave his kinsman warm thanks for this 
offer, and stated his readiness to do whatever he 
desired ; so, there and then, the agreement was 

Gerardo, for his part, waited until night came, 
and gave the usual sign to his wife that he wished 
to bear her company. When in due time he reached 
her chamber, after the customary greetings and 


embracings, they sat down, and Gerardo spoke thus 
to Elena : " Sweet wife, dearer to me than my own 
life, it may be that you wonder why I make so great 
a point of coming to stay with you to-night, seeing 
that last night I was with you; yet, besides my 
desire to be always with you, that you will readily 
have noticed, there is another cause which has 
brought me hither." Then he told her of all that 
his father had said to him that morning. Elena 
listened attentively to her husband's words, and, 
when he had finished, with a fine tact and breeding, 
far in advance of her years, she answered, with a 
piteous sigh, " Alas ! and woe is me, dear husband ; 
did I not know by other things of your great love 
for me than by this news and the deep wound that 
you have just dealt me ! By refusing to obey 
your father, you close for me every way by which I 
can ever hope to reach happiness." Here she fell 
to weeping; her voice was broken with grievous 
sobs; and when in a measure tears had assuaged 
the bitterness of her sorrow, she recovered herself, 
and said, " Alas ! my dear one and my life, how 
deeply have you erred in not promptly obeying your 
father ! Ah ! more than thrice wretched me ! for 
though not yet known, not yet seen, I am the cause 


of so much harm, dishonour, and bitter pain to my 
honoured father-in-law ! When he knows me, shall 
he not have good reason to love me little ? Will he 
not call me the discomfort, and (which is worse) the 
manifest ruin of his house ? Indeed, he may well 
say this. Let me entreat you, and, if you love me, 
as I believe, my entreaties should avail a thousand- 
fold, let me pray you to obey your father at all cost, 
and patiently bear to be absent from my sight for 
these few months. Therefore, dearest husband, 
go hence in happiness, remembering me as I shall 
remember you, for in thought I shall follow you 
wherever you go, as she who ever desires to live 
and to die yours. May God forbid that I should 
prevent your living with your father in that peace 
and concord which ought ever to exist between 
you ! " Much more was said, but at the last 
Gerardo let himself be overcome by the just argu- 
ments of the wise and prudent damsel, and bidding 
her farewell with many tears, he went, at the usual 
hour, to do his business. Then he sat down to 
dine with his disconsolate father, and when the 
meal was ended, and all others had gone out, he 
rose and fell on his knees, uncovering his head, and 
speaking thus : " Magnificent and honoured father, 


I have thought much last night about the voyage to 
Baruti, of which you spoke to me yesterday ; and I 
clearly see how great was my error in not obeying 
your prayers, which for me should ever count as 
commands. Humbly and heartily I ask your pardon 
for my ignorance and folly, begging you to take no 
note of my scant reverence towards you, but to be 
pleased to restore me to your favour. See, O my 
honoured father, here am I, ready to obey you, and 
to go, not only to Baruti, but to any other place 
whither it shall please you to send me ; for I have 
determined to die first rather than again to oppose 
your wishes." 

At these words the kindhearted father bade his 
son rise, while tears of love and pity filled his eyes. 
For a while, emotion hindered him from speaking, 
and, with his arms about Gerardo's neck, he remained 
silent. The father's grief touched the young man 
to tears also, yet soon he dried his eyes, and sought 
to console his father with sweet words. Messer 
Paolo, having put an end to tears, became exceed- 
ingly glad, and sent for his son-in-law, to induce 
him to let Gerardo sail for Baruti after all, promising 
to find him another voyage. Lionardo came, and 
Messer Paolo, in great glee, told him that Gerardo 


was minded to sail for Baruti, so he urged him to 
remain for this time at home, and at the first chance 
he would provide him with a similar voyage, which, 
as it happened, he did, soon after. Lionardo was 
hardly pleased at the news, for he was bent upon 
the voyage ; yet, like a wise youth, he concealed his 
discontent, and told his father-in-law that he was 
pleased with what pleased him, and that to oblige 
him and Gerardo he would willingly do far more 
than this. Messer Paolo and his son thanked him 
much for his goodwill, and set themselves to lade 
the galleon with the goods and furnish it with all 
that was needed. 

But he would have much to do who should seek 
to tell the tale of those few nights which passed 
between Gerardo's resolve to go and his going, or 
to describe how the lovers took their last amorous 
pleasures and wept bitter tears of farewell, as bitter, 
may be, as those which sorrowful Fiammetta once 
shed for Pamfilo. To him who truly loves or has 
loved I leave it to imagine what he would feel were 
he in a like case. 

When the time for starting came, the seamen 
loosed the ship from her moorings, and with a 
fair wind set sail. If Gerardo, as he voyaged, 


centred all his thoughts upon his darling wife, so 
she, too, did the same, having moreover this com- 
fort, that she could speak of her dear husband with 
the faithful nurse. And if ever she was haunted 
by any doubt of his love, the good woman consoled 
her and made her feel sure that Gerardo loved no 
other woman save herself. With Gerardo it was 
not thus ; the closer he kept his passion shut within 
his breast, the more it burned and glowed with a 
great heat. There was no one to whom he might 
vent his love-troubles; indeed, he had never had 
the chance of making a confidant. Let us leave 
him, now, to set out upon his voyage, whence, later, 
we will bring him back safe and sound. 

About six months had passed since Gerardo left 
Venice ; and Elena, who counted over the hours, the 
days, the weeks, and the months, was hoping for 
her dear husband's return, rejoicing at the thought 
of it, every hour of his absence seeming to her as 
a thousand years. To her faithful nurse she would 
say, "Only fifteen days more, or twenty at the 
most, and then my much-longed-for husband will be 
back in Venice. Besides merchandise, he will bring 
a thousand pretty things, and when he started he 

told me that he meant to bring you many goodly 
vol. 1. g 


gifts." Thus the loving girl was wont to comfort 
herself, not aware that a plot was being prepared 
against her which should bring about infinite sorrow 
and the utmost grief. 

When Messer Pietro saw how his daughter 
possessed wit and charm beyond her years, and 
was of singular beauty, thinking, too, that at home 
she was without female guardianship of the sort 
that she needed, he determined to marry her, for 
he feared that something contrary to his wishes 
might befall : in fact, this had already happened. 
Nor did it take him long to find a fitting son-in- 
law, for he, being rich and of noble birth, and his 
daughter very beautiful and charming, many of his 
own quality would willingly have become related to 
him by marriage. Accordingly, from among others 
he chose a young man who most pleased him in 
the matters of birth and fortune, and through mutual 
friends and relatives it was arranged that the next 
Saturday he should see Elena. If she pleased him, 
on the following Sunday he should give her the 
ring, and that same night consummate the marriage. 
This being decided upon, great preparations were 
made for the coming wedding, and Messer Pietro 
told his daughter of that which he had arranged. 


At this unlooked-for and woful news (to Elena, 
as sad as if one had said to her, " To-morrow the 
Signory will have you hanged in St. Mark's Square, 
between the two high columns") she became 
greatly grieved, and in her exceeding anguish could 
answer nothing. So her father, thinking only that 
girlish modesty made her thus silent, said nothing 
more to her, but proceeded to give the necessary 
orders, so that the wedding should be celebrated 
in sumptuous fashion, with choice and tempting 
viands, as might befit his own rank and wealth, 
as also those of his son-in-law. 

Having been seen by her suitor on the Saturday 
evening, who greatly admired her, Elena at the 
supper-hour ate little or nothing. The nurse bear- 
ing her company, she withdrew to her chamber, 
where she wept bitterly. Greater lamentation than 
hers no mortal may conceive, nor could the nurse in 
any way comfort her, there being as it seemed no 
way nor outlet of escape from being wedded and 
bedded on the morrow. And to this, come what 
might, she resolved never to submit. She dared 
not reveal her marriage to her father, not from any 
fear that he would be cruel to her, but because by 
such disclosure she might peradventure bring hurt 


to her Gerardo. That night she was fain to quit 
the house, and, the nurse helping her, to seek out 
her father-in-law, and with her arms about his neck, 
acquaint him with all that had passed between 
Gerardo and herself. Yet she knew not if this 
would please her husband. Now, whoever should 
try to recount, one by one, the thoughts which that 
night passed through her mind, might as easily 
count the stars in the night, when the heavens 
are serene. But be certain that her sorrow was 
immeasurable and beyond belief. All night long 
she mourned, never once being able to take rest. 

When it was day, the nurse, leaving Elena's 
chamber, sought to do her household duties, while 
ever troubled and uneasy in her mind about the 
despairing girl, being unable to decide upon any 
expedient that should set her free ; and in truth her 
grief was as great as Elena's. 

The hapless damsel, distraught by strange and 
woful thoughts, had not doffed her attire all 
night, and, seeing herself now alone, she bolted 
the chamber door from within, and, dressed just 
as she was, she got upon her bed, arranging the 
draperies as decently about her as might be. Then 
she collected all her thoughts, and her heart for- 


bidding her to marry the man proposed by her 
father, while not knowing when Gerardo would 
come back, she felt that she could no longer live. 
Not having the courage to stab nor strangle herself 
(there being no poison at hand), she held her breath 
as long as possible, until overcome likewise by grief, 
she presently swooned and lay there as one dead. 
As none was near to bring her help, her senses 
were like to have left her altogether. 

The time for rising being come, the nurse went to 
dress Elena, and to her surprise found the chamber 
door locked, whereupon she knocked several times 
loudly, but got no answer. Messer Pietro, hearing 
the noise, came to the room, and after beating a 
long while at the door, they broke it down by main 
force. The father and others entered the room, and 
on opening the windows they all saw the hapless 
Elena lying, dressed, upon her bed, like a corpse. 
Then there was loud lamenting, and the wretched 
father fell to weeping, till his piteous cries reached 
heaven; while the nurse, howling and screaming like 
a madwoman, flung herself upon the body. Indeed, 
there was no one in the house who did not weep 
bitterly. They sent for the doctors, and the new 
bridegroom and his kinsfolk were also summoned. 


Many things were done, and countless remedies tried, 
in order to bring Elena back to her senses ; but all 
was in vain. The nurse, being closely questioned, 
said that Elena had been greatly troubled all night 
long, tossing from side to side, as if sick of some 
deadly fever, and that, on leaving the room, her 
mistress was awake. She felt inwardly certain, she 
said, that the girl had died suffocated with infinite 
grief; and then she fell to loud weeping again, and 
could not be comforted. The disconsolate father 
also wept sore, saying such things as would have 
moved stones to pity, much rather men. 

After a thousand remedies had been tried, the 
doctors, seeing that nothing served to revive the 
girl, gave it as their opinion that she had died of 
apoplexy, brought on by a subtle catarrh, which had 
passed from the head to the heart. Accordingly, 
as all now held her to be dead, it was arranged 
that in the evening she should be honourably borne 
by her peers to the sepulchre at Castello, and laid 
in the marble tomb of her ancestors, outside the 
church. Thus, amid the general weeping of all 
who knew her, the hapless Elena was buried. 
See, now, what strange accidents at times befall, 
and bear in mind that no happiness is ever com- 


plete without some sorrow being mingled therewith ; 
there is, moreover, at times so much wormwood 
blended with the honey, that the sweetness of the 
pleasure may not be tasted. 

On that very day, Gerardo was to have reached 
the Lido, near Venice, with his vessel. Right 
happily had he made his voyage ; indeed, he could 
have desired no more ; and he came back very rich. 
In Venice it is a praiseworthy custom that, when 
vessels or galleons return from long voyages, and 
specially when their business has been honourably 
despatched, the friends and relatives of those on 
board ship go out to meet them, and give them 
greeting upon their safe and prosperous return. 
Many citizens, therefore, both old and young, went 
to welcome Gerardo at his home-coming, and he 
himself was the gladdest of them all, not because 
that he returned wealthy and with his business 
successfully done, but because he looked forward to 
seeing his darling wife again, whom he loved and 
desired beyond all else in the world. He knew 
not, alas! that at the very hour of his landing 
she was being laid in the tomb, which may show 
how often thoughts deceive us. 

The galleon reached the Lido when it was 


evening, just as Elena's funeral obsequies were 
almost ended, and against the sky the voyagers 
saw the flare of torches that gave a lurid splendour 
to the night. They asked the friends who met 
them what all those lights might mean at such an 
hour. Many of the young men knew of Elena's 
hapless story, and they told how the ill-fated girl 
was to have been married that morning, but was 
found dead in her chamber, and how that doubtless 
her burial was now taking place. At this mournful 
news, those who heard it were filled with pity for 
the poor girl, but Gerardo, more than they all, was 
so overwhelmed with grief, and felt such a stab at 
his heart, that he could hardly keep back his tears, 
or forbear to show the inward sorrow that con- 
sumed him. Yet so far was he master of himself 
that he kept calm, and, quitting his friends on the 
galleon as soon as might be, he straightway went 
on by boat to Venice, being resolved on no account 
to survive his beloved Elena. It was his firm 
belief that she had poisoned herself rather than 
wed the man chosen for her as husband by her 
father. But before he took poison, or put an end 
to his life by some other means (indeed, as to this 
he was undecided), he resolved to open the tomb 


where Elena lay dead, and then, after looking upon 
her, he would die by her side. 

Yet not knowing how to break open the tomb 
alone, he thought of taking the boatswain of the 
galleon into his confidence, he being his intimate 
friend, and to reveal to him the story of his love. 
So, calling him aside, he told him of all that had 
passed between Elena and himself, and that which 
he intended to do, saying nothing, however, about 
his wish to die. So far as he could, the boatswain 
sought to dissuade him from trying to break open 
tombs, and thereby bring about a scandal ; but seeing 
that he was firm in his resolve, he expressed his 
willingness to do his bidding, and not to forsake 
him, but to share with him one same fate. 

So they two, without other company, took a boat, 
and leaving a man whom they had chosen in charge 
of the galleon, they went to Venice and landed at 
the boatswain's house. Here they provided them- 
selves with tools apt for their purpose, and then 
taking boat again, they proceeded to Castello. It 
was about midnight when they opened the sepulchre 
and raised the lid. Entering the tomb, Gerardo 
flung himself straightway upon his wife's body, 


and whoever had seen them then could scarcely 
have said which of the two was a corpse. Anon, 
recovering himself, he bathed his lady's face with 
bitter tears, and covered it with kisses. The boat- 
swain, fearing to be caught at such work by the 
officers of the night-watch, besought Gerardo to 
come out of the tomb, but he could not, being well- 
nigh beside himself with grief. Forced by his friend 
at last to go, despite the boatswain's remonstrances, 
he would fain carry away his wife with him, so 
lifting her up, they shut the tomb and bore her 
body to the boat. There Gerardo lay idown again 
by Elena's side, nor could he take his fill of kisses 
and embracements. But when the boatswain sharply 
scolded him for his folly in trying to take the body 
he knew not where, he at last listened to his true 
counsel, and resolved to place it again in the tomb. 
Accordingly they turned the boat's head about, and 
made for Castello. 

As they went, Gerardo, who could not refrain 
from caressing his dear wife, suddenly felt some 
movement in her, and said to the boatswain, " My 
dear friend, I feel something I know not what in 
her which makes me hope that she is not yet 
dead." Mindful of the strange changes that often- 


times befall, the boatswain thought that this might 
be, and laying his hand on the girl's left breast, 
he felt it to be yet warm, while the heart beat 
faintly. "Master," said he to Gerardo, "feel here, 
and see that she is not altogether dead." At this 
glad news, Gerardo, full of joy, placed his hand 
on her heart, whose beating ever increased, nature 
being desirous to call back the living spirit that 
had strayed. Then he said to his companion, " Of 
a truth she lives ; say now, what shall we do ? " 
"We shall do well," rejoined the boatswain, "so 
do you be of good cheer, and fear not, but that all 
shall be provided for. On no account must we 
take her back to the tomb ; let us go to my house, 
which is not far off, and there I have my mother, 
who is a woman aged in years, and wise withal." 

So they went to the boatswain's house, and 
knocked loudly till they were heard. The boatswain 
was soon recognised, for at the first time of his 
coming his mother had heard nothing of his entry. 
She was overjoyed at her son's return, and straight- 
way made the servant bring a light and open the 
door. Embracing his mother, the boatswain sent 
the maid away on an errand, when in her absence 
they carried Elena into a spacious room, and laid 


her, undressed, in an excellent bed. Then having 
lighted a fire at which they heated linen cloths, 
they rubbed and chafed the girl gently with these, 
never ceasing until she began to get back her lost 
senses and revive, when she muttered a few broken 
words. Then opening her eyes, by degrees she 
recovered her sight, and recognised Gerardo; but 
not wholly revived as yet, she knew not if what 
she saw was real or if it was a dream. At these 
plain signs of returning life, Gerardo tenderly em- 
braced his darling wife, and for sheer joy shed hot 
tears. When Elena came to herself, and heard how 
she had been buried and brought forth from the 
tomb, she nearly swooned again, half from terror 
and half from delight. Those who should here 
essay to tell of the lovers' gladness and content- 
ment would fall into grievous error, for not even a 
thousandth part of such consummate joy could they 
justly express. She being now revived, they fed 
the girl with new-laid eggs, pistachios, sweetmeats, 
and very precious malmsey wine. And as now the 
dawn drew near, they all begged Elena to rest, and 
with sweet sleep regain her strength. So she lay 
down, and soon lightly slumbered, having slept no 
whit that night, and still less the night before. 


The new day had come as they left her to repose, 
and Gerardo sent back the boatswain to the galley, 
while he himself took a gondola and went to his 
father's house. Being already risen, the old man 
with great gladness embraced his son, who told him 
of his happy and prosperous voyage, and how in 
selling the merchandise at Baruti he had made a 
great profit, his gain being no less by that cargo 
which he had brought home. At hearing all this, 
his father was right well content, and blessed his 
son a thousand times. That morning Gerardo dined 
with his parents at his home, and their joy was 
very great. After the meal, he waited a while, until 
he could bring his galleon into Venice, and do all 
that had to be done. Then, taking the boatswain, 
he went to see his Elena, with whom he supped 

When morning came, he took counsel with his 
faithful friend as to the best means of guarding 
Elena. After many schemes, Gerardo decided that, 
until the marriage could be made public, the easiest 
and most honourable way would be for her to 
remain with his brother-in-law, Lionardo. Accord- 
ingly the next day Gerardo dined at his sister's 
with Lionardo and his wife, and afterwards bid 


them come into a room apart, he having something 
to tell them in secret. When they were all three 
alone, he spoke as follows : — 

" Most noble brother-in-law, and you, my dearest 
sister, the reason for my summoning you hither 
is of the utmost importance for me; and I need 
secrecy and help. I know how much you love 
me, and that to get you to do me a favour, 
ceremonious speech, such as I might use to 
strangers, is needless, so let me come to the 

Then, from first to last, he told them the whole 
story of his love, and of the dreadful mischance 
which had befallen his wife, who now was in safety 
at the boatswain's house. And he said how glad 
he would be if they would take her under their roof, 
keeping her there until the marriage could be made 
public, since he knew of no other place where she 
might more honourably and safely stay, if not in 
their hands. Lionardo and his wife were greatly 
amazed as they heard of Elena's strange and perilous 
adventure, it seeming to them as if he told them a 
fable. But being certain that all was indeed the 
truth, they most willingly agreed to undertake the 
guardianship of the girl. So they went together in 


a gondola to fetch Elena from the boatswain's house, 
and bring her to their own home. 

What shall we say then of the disconsolate 
nurse ? Knowing that Gerardo had returned, she 
dared not see him, so great was her grief for the 
loss of her beloved Elena. It was not long before 
Messer Paolo began to speak to his son about find- 
ing him a wife; but Gerardo always made some 
excuse, saying that he was still young, and that the 
time had not yet come for him to bind himself with 
the close knot of marriage. It seemed to him fittest 
that in freedom he should enjoy his youth, just as 
his father had done, who, when he married, was 
much older in years than he. Some days went by 
as thus they disputed, while on most nights Gerardo 
enjoyed the pleasant company of his dear wife. 

Though aware of Gerardo's nightly absence from 
home, Messer Paolo knew not where he went to 
sleep, and doubted not but that he had traffic with 
some courtezan or woman of evil life, and that for 
this cause he did not care to marry. To remove 
such suspicion, and indeed to compass his desire as 
a watchful parent to see his son married, one day 
he called Gerardo and spoke thus to him : — 


"As, now, I want this consolation before I die, 
to see you happily married, tell me truly, my son, if 
you are minded to please me in this matter or no, 
so that I may settle that which I mean to do. If 
you wish for a wife, and she be suitable to you, I 
am pleased to let you choose her as you like. But 
if this be not your desire, by the evangels of St. 
Mark, I will make one of Lionardo's boys my son, 
and leave you of my fortune not a groat." 

When Gerardo saw his father's troubled visage, 
it seemed to him that he could no longer hide the 
truth, so he briefly told him of his marriage with 
Elena, of her swooning, and of her glad return to 
life and health. 

On hearing what his son told him, Messer Paolo 
thought he dreamed a dream, and could hardly 
believe the tale. But when he saw that his son 
spoke truly and with certainty, he said that next 
day, when dinner was over, he would go to see 
Elena, and so be assured of the truth. He forgave 
Gerardo for marrying without his permission — a 
permission that now he was not slow to grant. 
That day Gerardo went back to his wife, and told 
her and his brother-in-law of what they had spoken, 
and of their mutual decision. 


Next day, Messer Paolo and Gerardo went to- 
gether, without other companions, to see Elena. 
They were hardly come inside the door when Elena, 
running swiftly down the staircase, threw herself at 
Messer Paolo's feet and, weeping, besought his for- 
giveness if, while as yet unknown to him, she had 
caused him trouble and pain. The kind-hearted 
old man, when he saw his beautiful daughter-in- 
law, was touched to tears, and bidding her rise, 
he kissed her and gave her his blessing, and took 
her to him as his beloved daughter. Then, 
mounting the stairs, they all stayed a while with 
Lionardo, and Messer Paolo could never take 
his fill of talking with Elena, so sweet was she in 
manner and so ready of wit. 

A very beautiful festival was shortly to be held at 
one of the churches near his house, and on this day 
Messer Paolo was desirous that the nuptials should 
be held, and that Elena in rich vestments should 
attend Mass, and afterwards be brought home with 
honour. All arrangements having been made, many 
ladies were bidden to the marriage, who were told 
that the bride was a foreigner. Gerardo also in- 
vited his trusty friend, the boatswain, who knew 

all, besides several most noble gentlemen, and they 
vol. 1. H 


all believed the bride to be from abroad. Accord- 
ingly, on the day fixed, Elena was brought with 
great pomp and ceremony to the church, where she 
attended Mass, and all who saw her judged her to 
be the most lovely damsel in Venice. In fact, her 
beauty won universal admiration. 

It chanced that her affianced husband (to whom 
Elena's father had thought to give her as wife) 
was at the church with his dear friend ; and as 
they watched the bride and praised her beauty, 
they remarked her marvellous resemblance to the 
Elena who was dead, and, gazing more intently 
upon her, it seemed as if they fain would devour 
her with their eyes. She, noting this, soon recog- 
nised them, and could hardly keep from smiling, 
as she turned her face away, which made the two 
young men feel sure that the bride was indeed 
Elena and no other. Leaving the church, they 
went all the way to the Patriarchate, where they 
prevailed upon the Patriarch to let them open the 
tomb in which Elena had been buried. Finding 
there neither bone nor body, the young men raised 
a great outcry, and, returning to the church where 
the marriage was going on, they were for taking 
Elena away, one of them saying that her father 


had given her to him as his bride. High words 
followed, and Gerardo swore to meet his rival with 
sword and shield in one of the squares of Venice, 
but this coming to the knowledge of the Council 
of Ten, the combat was forbidden, and they decided 
that the law should settle the dispute. The suitor 
could only allege that the damsel had been pro- 
mised to him by her father, whereas Gerardo had 
the nurse's proof that he had wedded Elena and 
consummated the marriage. When the damsel 
herself confirmed this statement, the court pro- 
nounced her to be Gerardo's true and lawful wife. 
Messer Pietro was absent from Venice at the time, 
and hearing the news, and knowing Gerardo to be 
a young man both noble and rich, he welcomed 
him as if he were his own son. Thus did the 
good Gerardo prosper and become exceeding rich, 
living for a long while in peace and joy with his 
dear Elena, being often mindful of the misfortunes 
through which they had passed, together with the 
trusty nurse, their happiness ever increasing as the 
years went by. 

HOJV Signor Didaco Centiglia, having 
wedded a damsel, grows weary of her, and 
how at her hands he meets his death. 

VALENCIA, in Spain, is deemed a most noble 
and pleasant city, where, as Genoese merchants 
have often told me, beautiful and gracious women 
abound, who by their charms have such power to 
captivate men that in all Catalonia no more volup- 
tuous city exists. Indeed, if by chance they should 
happen upon some inexperienced youth, they give 
him such a trimming that, as cunning barbers, not 
the Sicilians themselves can beat them. Here, in 
this city, was the home of the Centigli, a house long 
famed for its many noble and opulent scions. One 
of these, Didaco by name, lived there not many 
years ago. He was twenty-three years of age, and 
very wealthy. He ranked as the most liberal and 
courteous of all the knights of Valencia, and it was he 
who at bull-fights, tourneys, and other festivals made 
the bravest show. Meeting one day a damsel of 


low degree, yet of great beauty and unusual charm, 
he fell passionately in love with her. The girl had 
a mother, and two brothers, who were goldsmiths, 
while she herself broidered stuffs with admirable 
skill. The knight, who so burned with love that 
he had neither happiness nor rest save when he 
thought of her or spoke with her, used often to pass 
by in front of the house, and with messages and 
letters importune her. Pleased beyond measure to 
be thus wooed by the first nobleman of the town, 
she gave to his pleadings neither too much heed nor 
too little regard, holding him, as it were, between 
the two. He, who craved other food than mere 
words and glances, fell ever deeper in love, hoping 
to achieve his end with gold. At length he was 
able to persuade the damsel to grant him an inter- 
view wherever it pleased her best, he pledging his 
word of honour that she should receive no harm 
nor insult at his hands. The girl told all to her 
mother, who, yielding to entreaty, agreed to allow 
the lover to hold the desired interview at her house. 
Having gained thus much, the knight came thither, 
and in the mother's presence spoke at much length 
with Violante, for so the damsel was named. Yet, 
though he was eloquent, and in fact a fine spokes- 


man, and though he made many promises to both 
mother and daughter, offering to pay, not only 
a good sum of money now, but also, if the girl 
should marry, to give her a suitable and handsome 
dowry, from Violante he got no other answer save 
this, that she was greatly indebted to him for the 
love that he said he bore for her, and that in 
matters honourable she would readily oblige him, 
but that she was firm in her resolve to die rather 
than to lose her good name. And with many words 
the mother upheld her daughter's decision. 

The luckless lover, good-natured as he was, when 
he perceived that by no arts that he might use 
could he win Violante for his mistress, resolved to 
make her his wife. He saw that she had beauty, 
grace, pleasant manners, and was endowed with 
every charm, and he judged that, though of base 
lineage, if he took her to wife, she might rank 
with the noblest dames of Valencia. Moreover, he 
bethought him that he had neither father nor 
mother who could cry out at his bringing to them 
such a kinswoman. Then, too, he was spurred 
on to this choice by the great love which he bore 
for Violante ; and this made him feel in duty bound 
to wed her, since the main thing in this world is 


to content oneself; and though in buying a horse 
a friend's judgment will serve, when it comes to 
choosing a wife it is best to take one after one's 
own heart. 

He also remembered to have heard that, not long 
since, a King of Aragon espoused the daughter of 
one of his vassals. Thus, after much thought, 
being unable to overcome his great love, which, 
as it seemed to him, grew ever stronger, he at 
length declared his resolve by saying, " Signora 
Violante, in order that you may know my love 
for you to be true, and that the words I spoke 
came from my heart, if you will be mine, so long 
as I live I will be yours, and I will make you 
my lawful wife." Hearing this, the mother and 
her daughter grew joyful, and thanked God for 
His bounty in giving them such good fortune. 
And Violante modestly replied — 

" Signor Didaco, although I know myself to be 
unworthy of such a cavalier as yourself, you being 
of ancient lineage and one of the great nobles of 
the land, whereas I am but of poor and base par- 
entage, yet to requite honourably your honourable 
love, I will always be to you a loyal consort and 
a faithful servant." In this fashion, then, it was 


agreed that the knight should wed Violante in the 
presence of her mother and her brothers. The 
nobleman was well pleased with the compact, and 
soon after, having kissed the damsel's hand, he 
returned to his home. 

Violante's mother lost no time in telling her sons 
of all that had been arranged with Signor Didaco, 
whereupon the two young men rejoiced greatly, as 
it seemed to them a fine thing that their sister 
should make such a grand match, without their 
having to give her a dowry. Two days had not 
passed before the knight returned, and then in the 
presence of the mother and the two brothers, as 
well as of a trusted servant, whom he brought 
with him, he solemnly took his beloved Violante 
to wife. He besought them all, however, to keep 
the marriage a secret until such time as he could 
make it public, there being certain reasons for this 
concealment. Having wedded his bride, he passed 
the night in her company, and the marriage was 
duly consummated to their mutual content. 

For more than a year his love for Violante 
remained steadfast, and almost every night he came 
to her bed. He provided her with rich dresses 
and jewels, giving to her brothers a handsome sum 


of money. This caused many who were ignorant of 
the actual facts to think that the knight had bought 
the girl's love, and took his pleasure of her as of a 
mistress, and this seemed to them more likely to be 
true, when they saw how frequent were his visits 
to her house, and how thoroughly at home he ap- 
peared to be there. The girl, though she heard 
somewhat of all this gossip, gave to it no heed, 
knowing how matters really stood, and hoping before 
long to announce her marriage, thus undeceiving 
every one. The mother and the brothers shared 
this hope, and often urged Violante to persuade her 
husband to make the marriage public. And when 
he came to her she repeatedly besought him to 
fulfil his promise to take her back with him to his 
home. This he said he would do, but made no 
further sign of keeping his word. 

Thus a year had passed since the secret marriage, 
when the knight, being either ashamed of Violante's 
plebeian origin, or tired of her, began to pay court 
to a daughter of Signor Ramiro Vigliaracuta, a 
member of one of the first families in Valencia. 
The courtship continued in this way for some time, 
until a dowry had been mutually agreed upon, when 
the knight publicly wedded this lady of high degree. 


The event became known throughout Valencia, and 
when on that very day Violante heard the news, 
she was as one stunned, for, needless to say, it 
troubled her much. She loved him who was her 
lord and master with an ardent and illimitable love, 
and now, after hoping for so long to win for herself 
a place of honour in the world, but finding herself 
despised, no way seemed open to her that might 
bring comfort. At nightfall the two brothers came 
home, who had also heard of this new marriage, 
and finding their sister disconsolate and weeping 
bitterly they tried their best, as also did the mother, 
to calm her and to make her refrain from tears. 
Yet she, being mindful only of her great sorrow, 
paid no heed to their exhortations, but with sighs 
and bitter lamenting bewailed her disgrace. 

So, for well nigh three days, she remained in this 
state, neither eating nor sleeping, and wasting 
gradually away. When forced at length by nature 
to take food and rest, she began to perceive that 
weeping availed naught, and, being loth to submit 
to the shame which Signor Didaco had brought 
upon her, she bethought herself of some scheme of 
vengeance which should make others bear a part of 
the punishment — vengeance meet for such villainy, 


so that for the future it should be less easy for 
men to betray unfortunate women. And, while 
disclosing nothing to any one of her fell purpose, 
she waited for some opportune moment when 
the knight should fall into her hands. Being 
resolved to wreak her vengeance upon him, she 
brooded over the way that this could best be 
done, and she resolved to give up grieving, and 
lead as merry a life as might be. 

In the house with her there lived a slave, a tall 
powerful woman of about thirty years of age, who 
was greatly attached to Violante, having nursed her 
as a child. She could not bear to see the girl 
scorned after this fashion, and sincerely condoled 
with her in her sorrow. It was to this woman that 
Violante proposed to reveal her plan, knowing that 
by herself she could not accomplish that which had 
to be done. Moreover, there was no one more 
fitted to help, so she told the slave of her cruel 
scheme, who not only consented to be a partner 
thereto, but highly praised her for inventing it. 
Having both settled that which they meant to do, 
they only waited for an opportunity ; and as they 
say, opportunity is the mother of all things. 

A fortnight had hardly passed since the cavalier 


had married his second wife, when one day, while 
out riding, he went by Violante's house. She was 
at the window, as if greatly surprised at not seeing 
the knight for so long in this part of the town. 
When she saw him, she blushed deeply, and waited 
to hear what he would say. The nobleman, when 
aware of her presence, also changed colour some- 
what, but putting a bold face on matters reined up 
his steed, and with a bow called out, "Good 
morrow, my lady ! How goes it with you ? It 
seems a year since I saw you." 

At this the girl smiled, and replied, "You give 
me good day with your lips, but in truth you have 
already given me a very sad day ; and how it goes 
with me you know as well as I. But God guard 
you, since it cannot be otherwise. You have for- 
saken me for good and all ; and then you say that 
it seems a year since you saw me ! It is plain 
to me that you no longer care for me, and I fain 
would tell you that this was my constant fear, for 
I was not so blind nor so witless as not to per- 
ceive that my base birth could never sort with 
your exalted rank. Yet I pray you still to be 
mindful of me and to remember that I am, and 
always shall be, yours." 


When the knight heard this and saw that Vio- 
lante made no further protest, he thought he had 
got a cheap bargain, and replied, "That which I 
have done, my lady, I was obliged to do, in order 
to make a lasting peace between my family and the 
Vigliaracuta, instead of a bloody feud, and by this 
marriage all has now been set right ; yet this will 
not cause me to forsake you, but whatever may be 
of benefit to you, that I will gladly do with all my 
heart, and be sure that my love for you is in no 
wise changed." To which Violante answered, " I 
shall take note if at times you choose to find 
enjoyment in my company.'' 

The knight assured her that this was his inten- 
tion ; and he had hardly gone fifty paces past the 
house when, summoning his trusty servant, who 
knew all, he said to him, " Go back and tell Sig- 
nora Violante that, if it put her to no trouble, in 
proof of my love and regard for her, I will come 
to-night and stay with her for a while." The ser- 
vant brought this message to Violante, who seemed 
to be greatly delighted at the news. She saw that 
her plan began to shape itself in the way she 
wished, and she at once called the slave, to whom 
she gave orders for the achievement of her design. 


When night came, Signor Didaco supped with his 
bride and stayed for some time, until, she being 
willing, he took leave of her. Then he dismissed 
all his servants except the one who knew the secret, 
and went to Violante's house, where he was gladly 
welcomed. The servant, having accompanied his 
master thus far, found lodging at a neighbouring 
inn. The hour was late, and the lovers soon sought 
their couch, conversing much about the new mar- 
riage, the girl being apparently desirous of nothing, 
save that the knight should care for her in the 
future. And he, who really loved her, for she was 
very beautiful, made large promises that he would 
always keep her as his minion. Then the knight, 
who was weary, fell into a sound sleep. 

Seeing this, Violante rose silently from the bed, 
and opening the chamber door let in the slave, who 
was waiting outside. Together they took a rope 
which had been got ready, and fortune so far 
favoured them that, before he was ware of it, they 
had bound the wretched knight with a thousand 
adamantine knots. Then, as he woke, dazed from 
sleep, the two audacious women thrust a gag into 
his mouth, so that he could not call out for help. 
There was in the room a beam which served as a 


prop for the floor above; and to this beam they 
tightly bound the knight, he standing on his feet, 
all naked as at the day of his birth. The fiendish 
slave then fetched a sharp knife, a pair of small 
pincers, and other instruments for cutting. What 
fears and anguish must then have seized the un- 
happy knight as he saw these two women display 
such deadly tools and eagerly prepare for their 
work, just as a butcher in the slaughter-house 
prepares to rip off the skin from an ox ! Verily 
I think he must have felt greatly grieved that ever 
he offended Violante ; but to repent too late avails 
naught — that is, with men, though with God, so I 
have often heard it said, heartfelt repentance ever 
avails much. 

The young man being thus bound, Violante, grown 
desperate, took the pincers, and with them seized 
her trembling victim's tongue, exclaiming, "Ah! 
false, perfidious, base, and cruel knight, whose 
wicked conduct makes you no longer knight, but 
the vilest of men, how sorry am I that, publicly, 
in the sight of the whole city, I cannot wreak on 
you that vengeance which your villainy deserves ! 
Yet I will so punish you that you shall be an 
example to those who, coming after, will take 


care how they cheat simple incautious maids, 
and remember that, when of their own will they 
have done a thing before God, they must keep 
their word. Traitor, do you forget that here, in 
this place, with a pretence of words, you gave me 
the wedding-ring, and with further false speeches 
robbed me of my honour? See, yonder, faith- 
less one, is the nuptial-bed that you so lightly 
have stained with infamy. Ah me ! how many lies, 
all told to my cost, has not this false tongue 
spoken! Yet, God be praised, it shall deceive no 
one more ! " 

So saying, with a pair of shears, she cut off more 
than four inches of his tongue. Then seizing his 
hand with the pincers, she cried, "O traitor of 
traitors ! why, with this hand, did you give me the 
nuptial ring ? Why did you wed me ? Why, too, 
were these arms clasped about my neck, if they 
were afterwards to offer to another an unlawful 
ring?" With this she cut off the tips of all his 
fingers; then, taking a sharp dagger, she looked 
into his eyes, and said, "I know not what to 
say of you, oh ! traitorous eyes, that once were 
the tyrants of my own. You met my gaze 

with an infinite tenderness, a love that seemed 
vol. 1. 1 


immense — a burning desire always to please me. 
Where are those false tears that you fain would 
have had me think you shed for my sake ? How 
often were you at pains to make me think that 
you could look on no beauty but mine, since mine 
was matchless, the very mould and mirror of 
all that was gracious and lovely ? Ah ! let your 
false light be now put out ! " So saying, she thrust 
the sharp dagger into both his eyes, so that they 
might never again behold the light of the sun. 
Then she cut off other parts of his body with her 
gleaming knives, and after this turned to his heart. 

Owing to these wounds the hapless knight was 
now more dead than alive ; and, though he writhed 
in agony, it availed nothing, they having bound him 
so tightly to the beam. An awful sight in truth was 
this, to see a strong man thus tortured, with his 
limbs torn, and powerless to save himself, or to cry 
for mercy ! Violante, being now wearied rather than 
appeased by the cruel revenge that she had taken 
upon her faithless husband, spoke thus to him who, 
it may be, could not hear, "Didaco, such revenge 
as was possible for me to take I have taken upon 
you, though it was not that which you deserved, for 
your sin should have been punished in the sight of 


all people with burning flames. It is your boast at 
least to have died by the hand of a woman whom 
you loved, and who loved you with a love that had 
no limit. What befalls me matters little, but if it 
had been possible I would willingly have died 
at your hands. Since this cannot be, God will do 
with me that which seems to Him fittest. I will 
torture you no longer." Hereupon she plunged 
the bloody knife up to the hilt three times in his 
heart, when the wretched man, shuddering, expired. 
Then the women wiped up the blood that had 
been spilled upon the floor, and, having untied the 
corpse, they placed it, with all the mutilated limbs, in 
a large basket, which they covered over with a linen 
cloth and put under the bed. Violante then turned 
to Giannica the slave, and said, "Giannica, I can 
never thank you enough for the help that you have 
given me in carrying out my longed-for revenge, 
which, without you, I could never have accom- 
plished. Now that my great desire is appeased, all 
that remains for me is to provide for your safety, 
while at the same time I make it plain to the 
world in what way I revenged myself; so that I 
am desirous for you to leave me, and to find some 
means of going to Africa; and this will be easy 


enough, for I will give you money to travel thither 
in comfort, and you will always keep me in your 
memory." Then, opening a coffer, she said, " I 
have here much money, with gold and jewels worth 
over fifteen hundred ducats; take them all, for I 
give them to you gladly; lose no time in saving 
yourself. I will keep the thing hidden for the 
whole day, and will wait until you have made good 
your escape." 

Hearing these kind words, the slave began to 
weep bitterly, and would on no account consent to 
leave Violante, declaring that she would share her 
fate, whatever it might be, and that love for her 
mistress made her careless of life. She could not 
be persuaded to go ; and Violante, seeing that her 
efforts were in vain, and that the slave wished to 
die with her, proposed that they should sleep there 
in the room during the short space of night that still 

When morning came, Violante again besought 
Giannica to flee, but in vain. Some while before 
midday the servant of the unfortunate knight came, 
as was his custom, to accompany his master to the 
house of the bride. When Violante saw him, she 
said — 


" If you would know where } r our lord has gone, 
go and bring hither, if it please you, his High- 
ness the Viceroy, for I am commissioned to tell 
the news to him and to none other. It will be 
a vain task for you to try and learn the truth in 
any other way." 

The servant went out, and meeting by chance 
the knight's uncle and cousin, he told them what 
Violante had said. They knew of Didaco's love 
for the girl, but not of the marriage, for the ser- 
vant had been strictly charged to reveal this to 
no one. The two relatives never thought that 
a dreadful deed had been done, but went on 
together to see Violante, who met them with a 
smiling face, and said, "My lords, whom do you 
seek?" and they replied, "We would have you 
tell us whither Signor Didaco has gone." 

" Pardon me, my lords, but I may not disobey 
his order ; bring hither the Viceroy, and you shall 
know all, for so he charged me to act.'' At that 
time the Viceroy was my Lord Duke of Calabria, 
son of King Frederick of Aragon, who died at 
Torsi in France. " It is not convenient," said 
these gentlemen, " that my lord the Viceroy 
should come hither." "Then do you see to it," 


answered Violante, "that either he come here, 
or that he send for me." 

Being unable to get more news from the girl than 
this, they went to inform the Viceroy. Violante, 
who, with her accomplice, foresaw all that was 
likely to happen, donned forthwith her richest and 
most sumptuous robes, making Giannica do the 
same, and then awaited the coming of a messenger 
from the Viceroy. Her mother, seeing the two 
gentlemen arrive, had asked Violante what this 
might mean, who put her off with a false tale, 
saying not a word as to the crime. Soon there 
came a sergeant from the Viceroy, who commanded 
Violante to appear before him. She, who expected 
this summons, told nothing to her mother, but 
straightway went with Giannica to speak to the 
Viceroy, who at that time had with him most of 
the lords and gentlemen of the land. When she 
had arrived, after the usual salutation, the Viceroy 
asked Violante what it was that Signor Didaco 
had charged her to say concerning him. Then 
the girl spoke, not as some timid sorrowful woman 
might speak, but with spirit and a bold front, 
giving answer thus — 

" My Lord Viceroy, you must know that more than 


a year since Signor Didaco Centiglia, seeing that 
by no other way could he have my love, resolved 
to make me his wife, and in the presence of my 
mother, my brothers, and Pietro his servant, who 
is now here, wedded me at my own home, and for 
more than fifteen months shared my couch as my 
lawful husband. Then he, regardless of the fact 
that I was his lawful wife, only lately, as all 
Valencia knows, espoused the daughter of Signor 
Ramiro Vigliaracuta, though wife of his she is none, 
seeing that I was first legally married to him. Nor 
did this suffice him, for, as if I had been his trull 
and common harlot, yesterday he impudently visits 
me and pours out a flood of lies into my ear, being 
at pains to make me believe that what was black 
was white. Hardly had he gone, than he sent 
Pietro, whom you see here, to tell me that he would 
spend the night now past in my company. To this, 
as Pietro can testify, I agreed, for the way seemed 
now open for me to take such revenge upon him 
as I was able. Therefore, O most just Viceroy, 
have I come here, that you may know all from my 
lips. With denials and entreaties I have nothing 
to do, deeming it too great a piece of cowardice to 
fear punishment for an act done wilfully and delibe- 


rately. Thus, by boldly and frankly confessing the 
truth, I shall protect my reputation, so that those 
who in the past had no reason to think ill of me, 
may now know surely and certainly that I was 
Signor Didaco Centiglia's lawful wife, and not his 
harlot. That my honour is safe suffices me, come 
what may. Last night, my Lord Viceroy, helped 
by this slave here, and spurred thereto by the injury 
received, I took such revenge upon my husband as 
seemed to me meet for the wrong which out of all 
reason he did me, since it was not I who was the 
offender; and with these hands I drove out from 
his vile body his viler soul. He took my honour; 
I have taken his life; yet how far more honour 
should be esteemed than life is all too plain." 

Then she told exactly the manner in which she 
had murdered Didaco, and how she had tried to 
prevail upon the slave to escape. 

At the recital of this tragedy, all the lords and 
gentlemen present were deeply moved, judging the 
woman to have greater courage than is wont to 
belong to her sex. The knight's pitiable corpse was 
exposed in a tower, presenting a hideous sight to 
all who viewed it. Violante's mother, the brothers, 
and the servant were in turn examined, when it 


was found of a truth the nobleman had no right 
to wed his second wife. After a strict and careful 
inquiry, Violante and Giannica were alone found 
guilty, and they were publicly beheaded. They 
went joyously to their death, as if going to some 
festival ; and, as report has it, the slave, being care- 
less for herself, besought her mistress to meet 
death calmly, since thus nobly had she gotten her 

OF the divers mischances and grievous perils 
which befell Cornelio for the love of his 

AMONG those Lombard fugitives who came on 
to Mantua after the famous defeat of the Swiss at 
Melegnano * was Messer Cornelio. With myself 
he took up his abode in that city. It is a pleasure 
to me, having all good cause for it, to speak of 
him as a most noble and gallant young gentleman 
of about four-and-twenty, tall, well-made, and of 
great strength and comeliness. He had his full 
share of virtues ; while, in the gifts of fortune, he 
was passing rich. His mother, who lived in Milan, 
and took the utmost pains to save his patrimony 
intact, always sent him all that he needed, so that 
he could keep a house in Mantua, and was well 

* The battle of Malignano, fought on September 13, 1515, when 
Francis I. completely routed the Switzers, and in fact decided the 
fate of the Duchy of Milan, which Maximilian Sforza had so miser- 
ably governed. Marshal Trivulzio termed it "a combat of giants,'' 
in which the very flower of the French nobility took part. 


furnished with clothes, and horses, and serving- 
folk. Before leaving Milan he fell in love, as 
lads will do, with a young married lady of high 
birth and great beauty, whom, that no scandal 
touch her, we will call Camilla. As a zealous 
partisan of the Sforzas, when Maximilian Caesar 
came, Cornelio had done all he possibly could to 
recapture his fatherland, and he was still in close 
relationship with Duke Francesco Sforza, often 
going to Trent, and scheming ceaselessly to bring 
about the Duke's return to Milan. But with all 
these plottings and schemings he could never forget 
his mistress. Indeed, she was in his thoughts by 
day as by night, and it grieved him far more not 
to be with her nor see her face than to be banished 
from Milan. 

This Camilla whom Cornelio thus passionately 
loved was but a girl, not yet one-and-twenty ; and 
of all the beauties in Milan, she was held to be 
the fairest. And though this mutual liking had 
led to no grave consequences, Cornelio's long devo- 
tion, and the absolute truth and sincerity of his 
love, caused her to repay this heartily; so she 
herself was grieved beyond measure at his going, 
and often bemourned his absence. They had not 


yet had the chance to speak freely of their loves, 
but by means of the man who drove her carriage 
they had often written to each other. The driver 
was very willing to do their bidding in this, as he 
had long been in the service of Cornelio's mother. 
Indeed, had chance favoured them, the lovers would 
very readily have compassed their desires. 

While Cornelio thus lived in Mantua, not as an 
outlaw, but in great affluence and honour, it hap- 
pened that a gentlewoman of the city fell despe- 
rately in love with him, apprising him indirectly 
of her deep affection. To the waiting-woman who 
brought these love-messages he replied with a, sigh, 
" My good woman, you can tell your mistress that 
I am under great obligations to her for her courteous 
tenders of affection, knowing that I am loved by 
her beyond any merit that is mine. It pains me 
much that I cannot return her the same, but I 
am not free to dispose of myself at will, having 
plighted my troth to another, and, being so bound, 
cannot loose myself. Of a truth, if I were my 
own, not another's, I would be hers without fail. 
Her beauty and engaging manners seem to me 
worthy of all honour and service, not only at my 
hands, but at the hands of those far greater than 


myself. Nevertheless, if she would command my 
life or my worldly goods, they are at her disposal ; 
these I offer willingly, provided that I fail not in 
my constancy to her for whom I live and die." 

The messenger brought back this answer ver- 
batim to her mistress; and, dear ladies, you may 
easily imagine how bitter was her chagrin at 
being thus refused, if you will only put your- 
selves in her place. She was a damsel of about 
six or seven - and - twenty years, to whom the 
greatest gentlemen in Mantua had paid court, yet, 
as I afterwards knew for certain, had never loved 
any one before our friend Cornelio inspired her 
with such fervent affection. 

Touching this, let me tell you what I said to 
him upon my return from Trent. When he had 
recounted the whole story, I said, " My good 
Cornelio, forgive my excessive frankness, but our 
brotherly friendship emboldens me to say as 
much and more if occasion serves. You say that 
in Milan you have fallen deeply in love, which I 
believe, for I know how soft of heart are the 
ladies of Milan, and how prone they are to love. 
But think you that your mistress differs in aught 
from other women, or that if, in your absence, she 


came across any man that pleased her she would 
hesitate to get such solace as fortune had chanced 
to offer her? Be sure that there is not a woman 
on earth who, having an opportunity to amuse 
herself with a man she likes, omits to profit by 
it, if only the thing may be done in secret. As 
you know, I have many relatives in Milan, the 
Bossa family being both numerous and ancient. 
Now, I believe my sisters and the rest of my 
kinsfolk to be made of flesh and blood, like any 
other women with whom I have had dealings. 
Compared with you, I am an old man, so that I 
have tried a good many. Women, my friend, are 
women all the world over, generally doing that 
which belongs to their sex. There you go, all 
day long, fretting your jesses like a hawk, taking 
naught in the way of pleasure, and believing that 
she you love does likewise. But, as I think, you 
are grossly mistaken. Assuming that she loves 
you, keeps true to you, and does as you do 
(though I can never believe that she is so silly 
as to remain with her hands at her waistband), 
what harm or reproach or slight do you do her 
if, being now here, you take your pleasure with 
some other woman ? How shall this bring her 


any hurt? Do here what you like, and as all 
of us do who, not to seem wall-eyed, lick both 
sides of the platter, taking what is good when 
we may, since things left are lost. This gentle- 
woman here loves you, and tells you so, therefore 
you ought to love and woo her in your turn. 
What the devil would you have more? Re- 
member that Dame Fortune wears her hair in 
front ; the back of her head is bald. If she should 
see that you neglect the chances that she offers 
you, and she be angered against you, you may 
say, as they said when Giovanni Galeazzo was 
encamped about the walls of Florence, and caused 
races for the mantle to be run on St. John's 
Day, viz., 'The game is up, unless death be our 
help.'* Therefore, that you be not brought to a 
like pass, give yourself a good time while you 
may. Make up to this pretty gentlewoman; and 
when we are back again in Milan, you can amuse 
yourself with the other." 

* Death, in fact, did come to the aid of the beleaguered Florentines, 
as their enemy, Gian Galeazzo, fell a victim to the plague on Sep- 
tember 3, 1393. It is characteristic of the man that he should have 
taken the appearance in the heavens of a comet as a presage of 
his death. "I thank God," he exclaimed, "that He has suffered 
the signal for my recall to appear in the sky, so that all men may 
see it." 


With these and a thousand similar arguments 
I sought to persuade him, but all my words fell 
upon deaf ears. He was firmly resolved not to 
break faith with his lady, and he begged me to 
say no more to him about this matter. When 
she got Cornelio's answer, the fair Mantuan was 
greatly mortified and confounded. However, mak- 
ing a virtue of necessity, she grew calm, and the 
ardour of her love changed to an intimate sisterly 
friendship. Even to this day she loves Cornelio 
as a brother. The first time she spoke to him 
after getting her answer she highly praised his 
loyal resolve, and even now, whenever love is 
the subject under discussion, she always declares 
Cornelio to be the truest and the most faithful of 
all lovers. 

Laying aside, then, all other loves, Cornelio 
thought of no one save of his dear lady in 
Milan, his only consolation being to get letters 
now and again from her, or to write to her in 
reply. This seemed to cool the heat of his 
passion, a faint help, a slight comfort, perhaps, 
yet one which in a measure served to while 
away his time of exile. 

One day a letter was delivered to him from 

vol. 1. k 


his lady-love which gave him much matter for 
thought, and he felt at a loss how to act. Cam- 
illa's husband, as it happened, was obliged to 
leave Milan for an estate of his in the country, 
where he would have to remain for some time. 
Knowing this, she wrote to Cornelio, as usual, an 
affectionate letter, in which, among other things, 
were these words : — 

"See, now, my dear lord, if you and I have 
not fortune adverse to our wishes, and if we 
have not good reason to bewail our bad luck, 
for my husband is about to leave Milan for one 
of our places in the country, and will be absent 
for some days. Were you but here while he is 
away, we might easily be together; but I see no 
chance of this, and am infinitely grieved that we 
cannot meet." A thousand other loving messages 
followed, of the sort that damsels who love 
ardently are wont to write. 

The letter greatly perplexed Cornelio, and at 
length he went to see his friend Delio, whom 
he loved as himself, and who when in Milan 
had known all about this love-matter, as indeed 
about all Cornelio's other affairs. Putting the 
paper into Delio's hand he said, " Read." Hardly 


had Delio read the letter than he seemed to 
guess what Cornelio thought of doing, and said, 
"My friend, you want to go to Milan and get 
your head cut off, an absolutely unreasonable pro- 
ceeding. I can easily see that this woman wants 
to cause your death, and make that death an igno- 
minious one to boot, for you know what a grudge 
the French have against you." 

" You are always harping on such horrors," 
replied Cornelio; "do but listen to me a little, 
for I should like us calmly to consider this 
question of my going, and judge which course to 
take that shall prove the lesser ill. You know 
how much I love that woman, and what suffer- 
ings I have borne in paying court to her, and in 
doing her loyal service. Yet, in spite of all my 
efforts to be alone with her, we have never yet 
had an opportunity for this. Now that her hus- 
band is not there, I could easily manage to meet 
her, and get that which I have so long desired; 
and, if this came to pass, I should prize the 
boon far more than aught else which fortune 
might bring me. What say you, now ? " 

"My dear Cornelio," replied his friend, "you 
would have us talk over the matter calmly, dis- 


passionately; but I see no way of doing this, for 
you yourself are so passionately bent upon this 
woman, and have become so blind as not to see 
the death that stares you in the face. Therefore 
you must be ruled by one whose eyes are open. 
You know that I love you, for you have ofttimes 
put that love to the test, therefore take heed to 
what I say; drive these silly fancies out of your 
head, for all this that you think is mere vague 
imagination. I advise you as I would have you 
advise me were I in a like case, viz., on no 
account go to Milan. Do you forget that you 
have been proclaimed a rebel, and that all your 
goods are confiscated ? You would hardly be gone 
from here than they would know of it in Milan. 
Just now, in Carnival-time, this place is full of 
masks, and there are many who spy out all that 
you say and do. Moreover, you have already been 
warned from Milan that you can do nothing that 
they do not know there. If, which God forbid ! 
you go thither, and by mischance fall into the 
hands of the French, not all the gold in the world 
will save your head. Would you, just for a brief 
and fleeting pleasure, lose your life ? Then, again, 
how can you be certain of getting there in safety ? 


You would have to pass through Cremona and 
Soncino, or else by way of Pizzighitone and Lodi. 
In all these places you are better known than 
the wayside nettle. Yet, assuming that you travel 
by disused roads to avoid being seen, what assur- 
ance have you, on reaching Milan, that you will 
obtain of her that which you so hotly desire ? 

" I believe that, knowing that you could not, and 
indeed dared not, go to Milan, she wrote thus to 
show you that she ever bears you in her thoughts 
and loves you most dearly; for, had she believed 
that you could with safety come, she would have 
written differently. Now, supposing that when 
you arrive she is perfectly ready to do your 
pleasure, ought you not to reflect what sort of 
house hers is, and that, though her husband be 
absent, his household servants are all at home? 
Don't you know what a grim old body is her 
female companion, who never leaves her side for 
an instant, and perhaps even sleeps with her 
when the husband is away ? For just one hour of 
bitter-sweet toying, would you endanger your life ? 
And if mischance should overtake you in this 
attempt, what would be said of you, then ? Though 
young, you are deemed wise, with prudence and 


wit riper than your years might warrant; do not, 
then, shake the general belief in your discretion. 
If for the service and benefit of your lord you 
must needs go to Milan, and if evil betided you, 
at the least you would win general compassion 
even from your foes, being praised as the loyal, 
faithful servant of your master. But, for such a 
thing as this, besides the hurt, you would only get 
perpetual reproach and ignominy. My brother, do 
you keep this life of yours which you value so 
lightly ; keep it for a better use, for a more honour- 
able enterprise than this." 

This advice served to cool Cornelio's ardour not 
a little, albeit it was much against his will. Being 
at a loss what to answer, he remarked that night 
was the mother of thoughts, and that he would 
reflect further upon the matter before he saw Delio 
again. So saying, he took his leave. When night 
came, and he found himself alone, as sleep he could 
not, he gave rein to his thoughts, turning over all 
in his mind, and remembering the argument he had 
had with Delio. There being no one at hand to 
contradict him, appetite overcame him; and he 
determined, though death should be his portion, 
to go to Milan. 


He rose with the dawn and went to see Delio, 
who was still abed, saying to him, " Delio mine, 
I have determined, no matter what befall me, to 
start on such and such a day at nightfall, and go 
straight away to Cremona, and wait there until 
the city-gate is opened, when I shall visit the house 
of our friend Messer Girolamo, and stay with him 
all day. Late in the evening I must push on to 
Lodi at Zurlesco, where I shall be privily lodged 
at Signor Oistarino's. Here also I mean to re- 
main a whole day until evening, when I shall 
journey on to Milan, arriving there in the third 
hour of the night. As you know, the Porta 
Ticinese is open at all hours to any one who 
can pay the porter a few pence; and, on enter- 
ing the city, I shall go straight to Messer Am- 

When Delio knew of his friend's intention, he 
used all possible efforts to turn him from his pur- 
pose. But though he said all that he knew and all 
that he could, Cornelio was resolutely determined to 
go at all cost, adding as a final reason, "I would 
fain try my fortune, and, if the thing succeeds, as I 
desire and hope it may, what more fortunate and 
happy lover than I ? And if it should happen 


otherwise, this solace at least I shall have, that she 
whom I love will plainly perceive that my devotion 
to her was true, and not feigned." 

When Delio saw that Cornelio was determined to 
run such a risk, and that no remedy might avail to 
hinder him, he said that, as Cornelio was bent upon 
going, he had better leave his own servants behind 
in Mantua, and take with him others of trustworthy 
character, who were not known in Milan. He 
accordingly engaged three servants, and got every- 
thing in readiness. On the evening appointed he 
stealthily quitted Mantua, and, taking the route he 
had already planned, he reached Milan in the third 
hour of the night, and went straight to the house of 
Messer Ambrogio, his very faithful friend. He bade 
one of his serving-men knock at the door and tell 
Messer Ambrogio to come down at once, as there 
was a gentleman who wished to speak with him. 
Then Cornelio whistled in such a way that 
Ambrogio knew it was he; so, coming down, he 
unbarred the door and said, " Who's there ? " 
Without answering, Cornelio made a certain sign, 
when Messer Ambrogio, doubly assured of the truth, 
caused the torches to be taken inside which he had 
had brought out with him to light the threshold, 


and then joyfully welcomed his friend. He took 
him into a chamber on the ground floor, letting 
nobody know who the new-comer was, except one 
trusted servant. It was in the month of February, 
and for many days there had been no rain nor snow 
to spoil the roads, so that they were very dusty; 
however, Cornelio had had an easy ride of it. 

When morning came Cornelio sent for a tailor, 
who used to carry letters to him from Camilla. The 
man was overjoyed at seeing him, and they talked 
together for a good while. Cornelio then gave the 
tailor a letter, which he was to take to his lady. 
When aware of her lover's arrival in Milan, she 
felt at once glad and sorrowful — glad in the hope of 
seeing her Cornelio, who loved her and her alone, 
she was very certain, since he had exposed himself 
to such peril for her sake; and sorrowful, because 
in a day or so her husband would return. You 
must know that in the letter she wrote to Cornelio 
she mistook the day of her husband's going, so that 
Cornelio delayed his departure from Mantua over- 
long. Camilla sent back a billet by the tailor, to 
tell Cornelio that she would expect to meet him that 
very day at such and such an hour at the gateway 
of her palace. He was to come masked, and make 


a certain sign. At the time fixed, Cornelio (wearing 
a mask) donned one of those long coloured dresses 
then in fashion with Milanese gentlemen, put plumes 
in his cap, and, mounting a beautiful little jennet, 
rode off alone to Camilla's house. There she stood 
in the doorway, talking to some gentlemen, look- 
ing lovelier and more graceful than ever. Cornelio 
halted, and bowing to the lady gave the sign, but 
did not utter a word. Seeing a mask stop silently 
near them, and thinking it might be some one who 
wished to speak to Camilla unobserved, the gentle- 
men discreetly set spurs to their mules and rode off, 
leaving Cornelio (though they did not recognise 
him) a fair field. When they had gone he reverently 
saluted the lady, who, amid countless blushes, was 
for a long while unable to say a word. Half beside 
himself for joy, Cornelio could hardly realise his 
position as he gazed upon the supreme beauty of 
his lady-love. At length, breaking this delicious 
silence, they found voice, and spoke much of their 
great love, fortune favouring them in this talk; 
for though many masks and cavaliers passed along 
the street, no one, noticing the lady in close con- 
verse with a mask, accosted them, so that they 
talked on, unhindered, until the brown dusk fell. 


The lady chid her lovér not a little for having 
exposed himself to so perilous a risk, blaming him 
moreover for not coming in time, as she hourly 
expected her husband. So Cornelio produced her 
own letter, and, reading it, showed her that she had 
mistaken the date of her husband's departure by a 
week, which error much confused her. Neverthe- 
less she agreed to see Cornelio that night at the 
fourth hour, when her serving-maid, being in the 
secret, should at a given signal let him into the 
house. If, however, that evening the husband should 
have come back, on giving the signal Cornelio 
would hear the waiting-woman say at one of the 
windows of the great hall, " I am sure that I left 
the comb here, but now I cannot find it." 

Upon getting this promise, Cornelio in great 
glee returned to the inn, where he partook of a 
light meal; and when the Broletto clock struck 
four he put on a coat of mail, with gauntlets and 
sleeves to match, and, taking a sword, set out 
for his lady's house. While waiting there for the 
door to be opened he heard, close by, a great 
buffeting of armed men, and the noise of many 
blows. Then one, running past, called out, "Alack! 
I am dead ! " and fell down in front of Camilla's 


door, just as the maid opened it for Cornelio to 
enter. The night was very dark, so that, without 
a light, nothing whatever could be seen ; but the 
noise of this scuffle had brought some of the 
neighbours to their windows with lights, and one 
of them, living opposite, spied Cornelio going into 
the lady's house, sword in hand. Though he heard 
somebody fall close at his feet, Cornelio took no 
heed, not even thinking about this, for his whole 
mind was set on something else. The maid took 
him into a room between the postern and the main 
entrance, where he was to wait till Camilla came. 
She, hearing that her lover was downstairs, feigned 
sudden indisposition, and told all her servants to 
go to bed. Hereupon the men-servants all went 
out of the house to sleep, as it was Carnival-time, 
and their master was away, leaving only the old 
cellarer and two pages, lads of about fourteen 
years, at home. The women of the house went 
to their beds ; and, when she knew that they were 
all sleeping, Camilla crept downstairs with the 
maid, as quietly as she could, to fetch Cornelio 
up to her chamber. 

While all this was going on, the watch happened 
to pass along the street. The head of the police 


at that time was a certain Monsignor Sandio, a 
very tall, big man, such as one seldom sees, who 
as his lieutenant had one Mombojero. 

Having heard of the fray (which was now over), 
and finding a groom in the service of Signor 
Galeazzo Sanseverino (Master of the Horse to his 
most Christian Majesty the King) half dead, and 
his body still warm, the captain of the watch 
called up the neighbours, and sought to know 
from them how the fight began. But these could 
tell nothing, save that they had heard a great out- 
cry and clash of arms. Then one of them sud- 
denly said that he had seen a tall fellow, sword in 
hand, go into Madonna Camilla's house, at whose 
threshold the dead groom lay. So the officer 
went thither, and, knocking loudly, called out in 
French, "What ho, there! Let me in!" At this 
the lovers were greatly terrified, as they believed 
that some spy had found out that Cornelio was 
there. \ Camilla had only just joined her gallant 
in the room below, and was about to give him 
an affectionate embrace, he doing likewise, when, 
lo and behold ! the watch knocked at the door. 

Startled by the noise, Cornelio, quick as thought, 
clapped two stools one upon another, and, helped 


by Camilla and her maid, climbed up into the 
chimney, where, planting his feet firmly on the 
two great hooks from which pots hang, he kept 
in an upright position, having his sword in his 
hand. Then, taking away the stools, and closing 
the room, Camilla said, "Who is there? Who 
knocks?" The keys were fetched, and when the 
cellarer and other women -folk, roused by the 
noise, came up, they opened the door, and Camilla 
in her boldest voice cried, "What do you want at 
this hour ? " The captain, who had heard that the 
palace belonged to a person of quality, answered, 
" Pardon us, madam, if we disturb you at this 
hour, for we do it unwillingly. I was told that 
he who killed the groom, who lies outside your 
door, entered in here; and, if this be so, I have 
come with the watch to arrest him." Camilla, 
who had feared it was her lover they wanted, 
was half-reassured at hearing this; and she re- 
plied, " Sir, I have had my door locked ever since 
nightfall, as my husband is away from home, so 
I know that nobody has entered the house, as I 
have kept the keys. But, in order to satisfy 
you, all the rooms shall be opened, so you may 


So they first of all entered the room where poor 
Cornelio was hiding in the chimney, who through 
the hole at the top watched the stars and shivered. 

Searching here, there, and everywhere, under 
the bolsters and under the bed, one of the ser- 
geants, to show what special zeal was his, struck 
the rope holding up the canopy over the bed 
with his halberd, so that the whole thing came 
tumbling down. Cornelio kept perfectly quiet, 
repeating to himself the monkeys' paternosters.* 
Leaving this room the fellows searched in every 
hole and corner of the house; and when they 
could only find the two pages and the cellar-man, 
they went down into the basement. Thinking 
the assassin might be hidden inside the casks, 
they were desirous to taste the flavour of most of 
the wines. As often happens on such occasions, 
some of the neighbours came in to see what was 
going on; among these was the fellow who had 
told the captain of the watch that he saw the 
murderer enter the house. Not finding the cul- 
prit, the captain decided to take his accuser before 
the court, believing that he knew more about the 

* Which means that his teeth chattered with cold and fright. 


Hardly had the officer and his men got half- 
way down the street than Camilla's husband came 
up. Finding the door open, and the neighbours 
with his wife making a great fluster and buzzing, 
he was greatly astonished. When Camilla saw 
him she felt more dead than alive, and cried out, 
"Alas! my lord, just look here at what these 
sergeants of the watch have been doing to this 
room and to the whole house ! " Taking him by 
the hand, she led him into the chamber where 
Cornelio was ; and in order to let the latter know 
that her husband had come back, she called out 
loudly, " Look, husband dear ; look how the rogues 
have turned everything upside down ! " Then she 
told him why the watch had come; but her hus- 
band, being very tired, felt more inclined for rest 
than anything else, so he said, "Wife, let us go 
to bed now, and we will see to these matters in 
the morning." 

Apprised by his voice of the husband's return, 
Cornelio for very fright was like to have swooned. 
Then the neighbours were sent away, the door 
locked, and the horses taken off to the stables 
hard by. The husband went up to his room, 
where he had a fire lighted, and got the servants 


to undress him preparatory to going to bed, 
while two of his men lay down in the room where 
Cornelio was hiding up the chimney, in sore dis- 
comfort, and knowing not what to do. Some of 
the other serving-men had put their arquebuses 
and partisans here before going to sleep in their 
usual quarters. Leaving her husband abed, Cam- 
illa came down again with her maid to discover 
if there were any way of setting Cornelio free. 
When she saw the two servants in bed there, 
she said, "You ought not to have put yourself 
here, as everything is in such a mess." Then 
the major-domo came in and said, "Let them 
shift, lady, just for to-night as best they may, 
and in the morning all shall be put straight. Do 
you go up to bed, for by now it must be mid- 

Camilla saw that she could give her lover no 
sort of help, so she said, "I also came down to 
see that no fire was lighted here, as the chimney 
top is cracked, and might easily set the house on 
fire." With this she went upstairs, still think- 
ing of poor Cornelio. Finding her husband nearly 
asleep, she lay down beside him, and said, "You 
have come home rather late, my lord, for this 

VOL. I. L 


cold weather." " Yes," he answered, " I left 
Novara this morning, expecting to get here by 
nightfall, but our kinsfolk, the Cribelli, kept me 
such a time at Buffaloro that I changed my mind, 
and decided to have supper and sleep at our place 
on the Navilio. I got there late, and the steward 
had prepared an excellent supper for us, but 
asked me to excuse the bad sleeping accommo- 
dation, as the beds, which in war-time had been 
fetched away to Milan, had not yet come back, 
though I thought they had. So I determined 
to come on here as soon as we had supped; and, 
as the roads were good, and the way safe, we 
did this." 

Cornelio, who had heard all that went on, was 
now in a greater fright than ever, fearing that, 
overcome by sleep, he might fall down and be 
killed by the servants. On the other hand, the 
icy blasts which blew down the chimney seemed 
to pierce his very bones. He more than once 
thought of letting himself drop as gently as possible 
when those in the room were fast asleep, and so 
escape ; but he was unfamiliar with the house, and 
knew neither how to get out nor where to hide. 
Then, again, his feet hurt him greatly, as the hooks 


were round, and to stand on them for long was 
most uncomfortable ; indeed, he could hardly keep 
himself in that position at all. Nevertheless, hoping 
to get away when morning came, he buoyed him- 
self up with this faint hope, thinking of his lady's 
beauty, and saying to himself now and again, " The 
great discomfort that I now endure is not half as 
great as that which I ought to suffer for the en- 
joyment of such beauty and charm as belong to 
my lady. How should she know that I loved 
her wholly and solely, if for her sake I did not 
endure far greater perils and far sharper pains ? " 
So, with thoughts such as these, and helped 
by ardent love, he set himself courageously to 
bear all. 

In the meanwhile, as we have seen, the captain 
of the watch took the accuser to the court and 
brought him before Mombojero, who, after question- 
ing him, threatened him with all kinds of tortures 
if he did not tell the truth about the groom's 
murder. But the poor wretch could only repeat 
what at first he had said; and Mombojero there- 
upon ordered the watch to go back to the house, 
and search it thoroughly from top to bottom. So 
the captain returned thither with his men, and 


knocked so loud that all in the house heard him. 
The cellarer got up first, and, fetching the keys, 
went to open the door, while his master dressed 
himself. On entering, the officer went straight to 
the room where Cornelio was, who had heard all, 
and thought the sergeants were come on some other 
pretext to arrest him. Seeing the two lackeys 
asleep, and finding halberds and firearms in the 
room, the captain in a trice had both fellows bound. 
The steward had only just got out of prison, where 
he had been kept a long while for wounding a 
workman. When the man asked what all this 
might mean, the officer, recognising him, replied, 
" Marry, but you shall soon know, and pay both 
for this and the other affair as well." Then, just 
as the sergeants were going upstairs, down came 
the secretary, whom they promptly arrested. In 
great surprise at hearing this, the master of the 
house, half dressed, meets the captain on the stairs, 
who calls out, " Monsignor, you are a prisoner of 
the most Christian king! " To say this and to 
seize him was the work of an instant. They also 
clapped hands on three or four others, making the 
very deuce of a rumpus, so that it was as if the 
Day of Judgment had come. Cornelio, hearing all 


their din, said to himself, "God help us! what 
devilry are they up to now?" 

The master of the house tried to make excuses 
for his servants and himself, saying that he had 
only returned from the country a little before mid- 
night with his men. But it was in vain to protest, 
as the watch without further ado marched the whole 
nine of them off to the court-house, where they 
were put in the prisons. 

At this fresh trouble Camilla wept bitterly. But 
as she knew that her husband and his folk were 
innocent of the murder in question, she thanked 
God for what had happened, as it gave her a chance 
to set her faithful lover free. So, after locking the 
door, and sending her women and the others back 
to their beds, she went with her maid into the 
room where poor Cornelio, like the Jews, awaited 
the coming of the Messiah. Approaching the chim- 
ney she dried her tears, and laughingly called up 
to Cornelio, " Sweetheart, how are you ? What 
are you doing ? You may safely come down now, 
for God, to prevent a greater scandal, has suffered 
my lord husband with most of his serving-men 
to be carried off to the court-house." Then the 
maid placed the stools as before, and she and her 


mistress held them fast for Cornelio to step on. 
He soon came deftly down, and was gleefully wel- 
comed by Camilla, who took him upstairs to her 
chamber, where a good fire was lighted. After 
washing his hands and face, which were all be- 
smirched with soot, Cornelio soon shook off the 
chill that the chimney had given him, and laughed 
many a time with her at all these misadventures 
which had befallen him. 

Early next morning Camilla had her lover taken 
to a little room, where everything he needed was 
fitly supplied to him by the maid ; and here, when 
it was convenient, the lady visited him. Then, 
having summoned her relatives, she took steps 
for the release of her husband, informing them 
exactly how the whole thing had occurred. How- 
ever, the matter went further than ever they 
thought, as it became necessary to send a notary 
to Novara to examine witnesses, and also make 
inquiries at the village where the hapless gentle- 
man and his crew had supped, to prove the truth 
of their assertions. In this way six days elapsed 
before they could get out of prison, and all the 
while Cornelio passed every night in his lady's 
company, for fear that, sleeping alone, she might 


see some disagreeable ghost. Then, knowing the 
day of her husband's home-coming, she sent Cor- 
nelio away betimes, after countless kisses and en- 
dearments, when he straightway returned to the 
inn. Having dined, he went, masked, to pay his 
respects to Signor Alessandro Bentivoglio and his 
lady, Signora Ippolita Sforza. While conversing 
with them certain gentlemen came in, one of whom 
told how Mombojero had just been with the police 
officers to Cornelio's house, having got wind of 
his departure from Mantua, and of his arrival in 
Milan. At this news Cornelio soon bade his friends 
farewell, and, going back to his lodging, determined 
to remain no longer in such peril. So, that very 
night, he took horse and rode back to Mantua, by 
way of Bergamo and Brescia, not caring to travel 
by the road that he had first taken, lest haply he 
might meet some ill-favoured folk by the way. 

OF the sad end of two hapless lovers, one 
dying of poison, and the other of grief ; 
together with sundry events. 

1 F the affection which deservedly I cherish for my 
own native country do not deceive me, few cities, I 
take it, in this fair Italy of ours can excel Verona 
in beauty of position, placed as it is on so noble a 
river as the Adige, whose limpid waters divide the 
city, and cause it to abound in such merchandise 
as Germany sends thither. Fair fruitful hills and 
pleasant valleys environ it, while its beauty is en- 
hanced by many fountains of pure sparkling water, 
as also by four stately bridges across the river, and 
by a thousand other notable objects of antiquity 
which may there be seen. But if I speak now, it 
is not because I am moved to praise my native 
nest, which of itself proclaims its own merit and 
distinction, for I would tell you of the lament- 
able misfortunes that befell two noble lovers in 

this city. 



At the time of the Signori della Scala there were 
two families in Verona renowned for their high 
birth and great wealth. These were the Montecchi 
and the Capelletti, between whom, for some reason 
or other, there existed a fierce and bloody feud, 
and, there being strength on either side, in various 
frays many were killed, not only of the Montecchi 
and the Capelletti, but also of their followers and 
partisans. This served ever to augment their 
mutual hate. 

Bartolomeo Scala, being at that time lord of 
Verona, was at great pains to pacify both parties ; 
but so deeply rooted was their hatred, that he could 
never bring them to order. Nevertheless, if he 
might not establish peace, he at any rate put a 
stop to the perpetual frays which too often re- 
sulted in loss of life ; and if they chanced to 
meet, the younger men always gave way to the 
elder of their adversaries. 

It happened that one winter, soon after Christ- 
mas, festivals were held, which maskers attended 
in large numbers. Antonio Capelletto, the head of 
his house, gave a very splendid entertainment, to 
which he invited many noblemen and gentlefolk. 
Most of the young bloods of the city were there, 


among them being Romeo Montecchio, a youth 
of twenty or thereabouts, and the handsomest 
and most courteous in all Verona. Wearing a 
mask, he went with several of his companions to 
Capelletto's house at nightfall. Just then Romeo 
was deeply enamoured of a gentlewoman, whose 
slave he had been for nearly two years, and, 
though he constantly followed her to churches 
and other places, she had never yet vouchsafed 
him so much as a single glance. Often had he 
written letters to her and sent messages ; but so 
hard of heart was she that she would not smile 
graciously upon the love-sick youth, and this 
grieved him so much that he resolved to leave 
Verona, and stay away for one or two years, so 
that by travelling here and there in Italy he 
might abate the vehemence of his passion. Then 
again, overcome by his fervent love, he blamed 
himself for harbouring so foolish a thought, and 
it appeared utterly impossible to quit Verona. 
At times he would say to himself: "It can no 
longer be true that I love her, for in a thousand 
ways I have had clear proofs that she does not 
value my devotion. Why should I persist in 
following her everywhere, since courting her is 


useless ? It behoves me never to go to a church 
nor any other place that she frequents, so that, 
not seeing her, this fire within me that is fomented 
by her beautiful eyes may gradually die out." 

Alas ! all such thoughts proved vain, for it 
seemed that the more coy she showed herself, 
giving him less reason to hope, the more his 
love for her increased, and on no day that he 
did not see her could he be happy or at ease. 
As his devotion became ever deeper and more 
constant, some of his friends feared that he would 
waste away, and they often admonished him and 
besought him to relinquish such an enterprise. 
But for their warnings and healthful counsel he 
cared as little as did the lady for his love. 

Romeo had a comrade who was deeply con- 
cerned about his hopeless love, and greatly re- 
gretted that in pursuit of a woman he should 
lose golden youth and the very flower of his 
years. He would often expostulate with Romeo 
upon the subject ; and one day he said : " Loving 
you, Romeo, as I do like a brother, it sorely 
vexes me to see you wasting thus like snow 
before the sun. As all that you do and all that 
you spend brings you neither honour nor profit, 


for you cannot induce her to love you, and all 
your efforts only make her more froward, why 
should you longer strive in vain ? It is quite 
clear to you that for you and for your service 
she cares not a jot. It may be that she has 
some lover who is so dear and pleasant to her 
that she would not leave him for an emperor. 
You are young — perhaps the comeliest youth in 
all Verona; moreover, you are courteous, amiable, 
brave, and well versed in letters — to youth, a 
rare adornment. You are your father's only son, 
whose great riches are well known to all. Has 
he ever shown himself close-fisted towards you, 
or scolded you for spending and giving just as 
you liked? He is your man of business, toiling 
to amass wealth for you, and letting you do just 
what pleases you. Rouse yourself, then, and see 
the error of your ways. Strip off the veil that 
blinds your eyes and will not let you see the 
road in which you should walk. Resolve to turn 
your thoughts elsewhere, and to make some 
woman your mistress who shall be worthy of 
you. Entertainments and masked balls are about 
to be given in the city; to all of these you must 
go. If by chance you should meet her whom 


you have so long courted in vain, give her not a 
glance, but look in the mirror of that love which 
you bore for her, and doubtless you will find re- 
compense for all the ills that you have suffered. 
Disdain most just and reasonable will then be 
aroused within you, which shall presently daunt 
your ill-regulated passion, and shall set you 

With many similar arguments Romeo's trusty 
comrade sought to turn him from so hapless an 
enterprise. Romeo listened patiently, and deter- 
mined to profit by such wise counsel. He went 
to all the festivals, and whenever he met the 
froward damsel he never gave her a look, but 
turned all his attention to others, examining 
them critically with a view to choosing the one 
he liked best, just as if he had come to market 
to buy a doublet or a horse. 

Thus, as we have said, Romeo went to the 
festival given by the Capelletti, and after wearing 
his mask for a while he took it off, and sat 
down in a corner whence he could leisurely sur- 
vey all who were in the hall, where numerous 
torches made the light as bright as that of day. 
Every one looked at Romeo, especially the ladies, 


and all wondered that he should show himself 
thus freely in the house. But, as in addition to 
great good looks he had most charming manners, 
everybody took a liking to him, and his enemies 
gave no heed to him, as they might have done 
had he been older. Thus Romeo figured there 
as a judge of the beauty of all those ladies who 
came to the ball, praising this or that one as the 
fancy took him, preferring to criticise rather than 
to dance. 

Suddenly he noticed a maiden of extraordinary 
beauty, whom he did not know. She pleased 
him infinitely, and he deemed her the loveliest 
and most graceful damsel that he had ever seen. 
The more he gazed at her, the more beautiful 
and charming did she seem to become, so he 
began to throw her amorous glances; in fact, he 
could not take his eyes off her. A strange joy 
filled him as he looked, and he inwardly resolved 
to use every endeavour to win her favour and 
her love. Thus supplanted by this new affection, 
his love for the other lady waned, and its fires 
were extinguished. Having set foot in love's de- 
licious maze, Romeo, while not daring to inquire 
who the damsel might be, was content to feast 


his eyes upon her beauty, and as thus captivated 
by her charm he waxed eloquent in praise of her 
every gesture, insensibly he drank in draughts of 
the luscious poison of love. As I have said, he 
sat in a corner of the ball-room, and watched all 
the dancers as they passed. The name of the 
maiden whose beauty thus charmed him was 
Giulietta, and she was the daughter of the host. 
To her Romeo was unknown, but he seemed to 
her the handsomest youth she had ever met, and 
she took a strange pleasure in looking at him, 
though she did this in shy, furtive fashion, while 
in her heart she felt a rapture indefinably de- 
licious and immeasurably sweet. She was most 
anxious that Romeo should dance with her, so 
that she might the better see him and hear him 
speak, believing that in his voice there would be 
as great a charm as in his eyes. But Romeo 
showed no desire to dance, and sat there in his 
corner alone, intently gazing at the lovely damsel, 
while looking at no one else, and by this inter- 
change of glances and gentle sighs they sought 
to acquaint each other with their mutual love. 

The ball was now about to end with a torch- 
dance, or, as some style it, a cap-dance. Romeo 


was invited to join in this by a lady, and after 

dancing with her he bowed, and, giving the torch 

to another lady, went close to Giulietta and took her 

by the hand, an act that gave to each inestimable 

pleasure. Giulietta thus stood between Romeo and 

another gentleman named Marcuccio, a man of the 

court, and most agreeable, whose witty, pleasant 

ways made him a general favourite. He had 

always got some good story to set the company 

laughing, while his merriment brought with it harm 

to none. At all times, in winter or in summer, he 

had hands as cold and icy as an Alpine glacier, 

and, though he might warm these for a good while 

at the fire, they always remained stone cold. With 

Romeo on her left, Giulietta had Marcuccio on her 

right, and when she felt the lover take her hand, 

being possibly desirous to hear him speak, she 

turned gaily to him and said with trembling voice, 

" Blessings attend your coming to my side ! " So 

saying, she pressed his hand lovingly. Romeo, 

being quick of wit, gently returned the pressure, 

as he answered, "Lady mine, what blessing is 

this that you bestow upon me ? " Then, with a 

sweet smile, she said, " Do not marvel, Oh, gentle 

youth, that I bless your coming here, as Messer 
vol. 1. M 


Marcuccio has been freezing me for a good while 
past with his ice-cold hand ; but now, all thanks 
to you, your delicate hand has warmed me." To 
this Romeo instantly answered, "Lady, whatever 
service I can do for you will be to me supremely 
dear, as to serve you is all that I desire in this 
world ; and I shall count myself happy if you will 
but deign to command me as you would command 
the least of your servants. Let me tell you, more- 
over, that if my hand warms you, the fire of your 
fair eyes burns all my being, and if you give me 
no help to endure such heat, it will not be long 
before you see me entirely consumed and changed 
to ashes." He had hardly said these words when 
the torch-dance came to an end, and Giulietta, full 
of passion, pressed his hand, as with a sigh she 
said falteringly, " Alas ! what can I say but that I 
am much more yours than mine ! " 

As all the guests were now departing, Romeo 
waited to see which way the damsel went ; but he 
soon discovered that she was a daughter of the 
house, and of this one of his friends assured him 
who had made inquiry of many of the ladies. The 
news disconcerted him not a little, as he held it to 
be a most perilous and difficult matter to attain the 


end of his amorous desire. But the wound was 
already open, and had become deeply impregnated 
with love's subtle poison. 

Giulietta, on the other hand, desired to know 
who the youth was to whose comeliness she had 
fallen a victim ; so she called her nurse aside into 
a chamber, and stood at a window overlooking 
the street, which was clearly lighted up by all 
the torches. Then she began to ask the nurse 
who this one was, wearing such and such a 
doublet, or that one with a sword, or the other; 
and she also asked who the handsome youth 
might be who carried a mask in his hand. The 
good old woman, who recognised nearly all of 
them, told Giulietta the names of each; and she 
also pointed out Romeo, for him she knew well. 
At the name Montecchio the damsel was as one 
stunned, and she despaired of ever getting Romeo 
for her husband, because of the deadly feud be- 
tween the two families; nevertheless, outwardly 
she showed nothing of her discontent. That night 
she slept little, being full of many thoughts; yet 
refrain from loving Romeo she could not and 
would not, so passionately was she enamoured. 
His exceeding beauty encouraged her; and then 


again the difficulty and peril of the thing caused 
her to despair, so that she became a prey to con- 
flicting thoughts, as she said to herself: "Whither 
shall I let these ungovernable desires of mine 
transport me ? How can I tell, fool that I am, if 
Romeo loves me? Perhaps the roguish lad only 
said such words to deceive me, and, having ob- 
tained a shameful advantage, would laugh to see 
me turned into his trull, taking thus his revenge 
for the feud that grows ever fiercer between his 
kinsfolk and my own! Yet he is more generous 
of soul than to betray her who loves, ay, who 
adores him ! If the countenance be the manifest 
index of the mind, in a form so fair no ruthless 
heart of iron could dwell; nay, I am prone to 
think that from a youth so handsome and gentle 
one could only expect love, courtesy, and kindness. 
Let us then suppose that, as I would fain believe, 
he loves me, and would have me for his lawful 
wife; may I not reasonably think that to this 
my father will never consent? Yet who knows 
that such a match might not engender between 
the two families perpetual concord and a lasting 
peace ? I have often heard that marriages have 
made peace not only between private citizens and 


gentlemen, but frequently between the greatest 
of princes and kings, cruel wars being followed 
by true peace and friendship, to the great content- 
ment of all. Perhaps in this way I may bring 
about a tranquil peace between the two houses." 
Being therefore possessed of this thought, when- 
ever she saw Romeo pass along the street she 
always smiled gaily at him, and this greatly rejoiced 
his heart. No less than hers, his thoughts were 
at continual strife, now hopeful of mood, and 
anon despairing. Nevertheless he continued to 
pass in front of the maiden's house, by day as 
by night, though it was at his great peril, and 
Giulietta's kind glances only increased his ardour, 
and drew him to that particular part of the city. 
The windows of Giulietta's chamber overlooked 
a narrow passage, a farm-shed being opposite; 
and when Romeo passed along the main road, 
on reaching the top of the passage he often saw 
the girl at her window, who always smiled and 
seemed delighted to see him. He often went 
there at night and stopped in this passage, as 
it was unfrequented, and also because, if he stood 
opposite Giulietta's window, he could sometimes 
hear her speak. He being there one night, 


Giulietta, either because she heard him or for 
some other reason, opened her casement, when 
he withdrew to the shed, but not before she 
recognised him, for with her splendour the moon 
had made all the roadway bright. Being alone 
in her chamber, she softly called to him and said : 
"What are you doing here at this hour alone? 
If they should catch you here, alas, what would 
become of you ! Do you not know how cruel is 
the enmity that exists between your house and 
ours, and how many thereby have met their 
death? Of a truth you will be ruthlessly slain, 
and thus to you mortal hurt, and to me dishonour, 
will ensue." 

"Lady mine," replied Romeo, "it is the love 
that I cherish for you which brings me here at 
this hour, nor do I doubt that if your folk found 
me they would try to kill me, albeit, so far as my 
feeble powers would let me, I should endeavour 
to do my duty ; and though overwhelmed by 
numbers, I would make every effort not to die 
alone. Indeed, if in this amorous enterprise I 
needs must perish, what death more fortunate 
could befall me than to die near you ? Never 
methinks, may it happen that I shall be the cause 


of putting the least stain upon your honour, for 
with my own blood I shall ever strive to keep it, 
as now it is, bright and fair. But if you held my 
life as dear as I hold yours, you would remove 
all these barriers and make me the happiest man 
alive." "Then what would you have me do?" 
said Giulietta. And Romeo answered, "I would 
have you love me as I love you, and let me come 
into your chamber, so that with greater ease and 
less danger I may show you the magnitude of my 
love, and all the bitter pain that perpetually I suffer 
for your sake." 

Vexed somewhat at hearing this, Giulietta in 
confusion answered : " Romeo, you know your love, 
and I know mine, and I know moreover that I 
love you as deeply as any one may love another — 
perhaps more than befits my honour. But let me 
say that if you are minded to enjoy me without the 
holy bond of matrimony you are very greatly mis- 
taken, and we may nowise agree. Knowing, as I 
do, that if you visit this neighbourhood too often 
you may easily meet with certain evil folk, when I 
should never be happy again, I conclude that, if 
you would be mine, as I would be yours for ever, 
you must make me your lawful wife. If you wed 


me I shall always be ready to come to whatever 
place you please. But if some other fancy fills 
your head, begone about your business and leave 
me in peace." 

At these words, Romeo, who wished for nothing 
better, gaily replied that this was his one and only 
desire, and that whenever it pleased her he would 
espouse her in whatever way she should appoint. 
" This is well," added Giulietta, " but, that out- 
marriage be celebrated in orderly fashion, I would 
have it solemnised in the presence of the reverend 
Friar Lorenzo da Reggio, my spiritual father." 
To this they agreed, and it was decided that on 
the following day Romeo should speak to the friar 
about the matter, as he was on intimate terms 
with him. 

Friar Lorenzo belonged to the Minor Brother- 
hood, a master in theology, a great philosopher, and 
a skilled expert in many things, including chemistry 
and magic. As the worthy friar desired to keep up 
his good reputation with the people and also enjoy 
such pleasures as he was minded to take, he sought 
to do his business as cautiously as possible. To 
provide against every emergency, he always en- 
deavoured to get the support of some nobleman of 


high repute. Among other friends whose favour 
he enjoyed in Verona, he had Romeo's father, a 
gentleman of great credit whom every one highly 
esteemed. He firmly believed the friar to be a 
most holy man, and Romeo was also much attached 
to him, being beloved by Fra Lorenzo in return 
as a prudent and courageous youth. Not only 
with the Montecchi but also with the Capelletti he 
was on terms of close friendship, and he confessed 
most of the nobility of Verona, the men as well as 
the women. 

Romeo, having decided to do this, took leave of 
Giulietta and returned home. When morning came, 
he went to the convent of San Francesco and told 
the friar of his fortunate love, and what he and 
Giulietta had determined to do. Hearing this, Fra 
Lorenzo promised to do all that he wished, as 
he could deny him nothing, and also because he 
felt sure that he could make peace between the 
Capelletti and the Montecchi and win greater favour 
with Signor Bartolomeo Scala, who was most 
desirous that the two houses should be reconciled, 
so that all strife in the city might cease. The two 
lovers therefore waited for an opportunity of con- 
fessing themselves in order to carry out their plan. 


It was the time of Lent, and to make matters 
safer Giulietta resolved to confide in her old nurse, 
who slept with her in the same chamber. Profiting 
by an opportunity, she told the good woman the 
whole story of her love. However much the bel- 
dame chid her and bade her desist from such an 
enterprise, this had no effect, so that at length 
she acquiesced, and Giulietta prevailed upon her 
to carry a letter to Romeo. When the lover 
read what was written therein, he felt as if he 
were the happiest man in the world, for in the 
letter Giulietta asked him to come and speak with 
her at her chamber window at the fifth hour 
of the night, and bring a rope-ladder with him. 
Romeo had a trusty serving-man, whom he had 
often trusted with matters of importance, and had 
ever found him prompt and loyal. Telling him 
of his design, he charged him to procure the 
rope-ladder, and when everything was ready set 
out at the time fixed with Pietro, for so the 
servant was named. He found Giulietta waiting 
for him, who on recognising him let down the 
cord which she had prepared, and they drew up 
the ladder, which, with the nurse's help, she fixed 
firmly to the iron grating, and then waited for 


her lover to come up. He boldly climbed up, 
while Pietro withdrew to the shed opposite. On 
getting up to the window, Romeo talked to Giu- 
lietta through the iron grating, the bars of which 
were so close together that a hand was hardly 
able to pass through them. After loving greetings, 
Giulietta said to him: "Signor mine, dearer to me 
than the light of my eyes, I sent for you to tell 
you that I have arranged with my mother to go 
to confession next Friday, in the sermon-hour. 
Inform Fra Lorenzo, so that he may have all 
things ready." Romeo replied that he had already 
told the friar, who was disposed to do all that 
they wished. When they had talked a while fur- 
ther of their loves, Romeo let himself down by 
the ladder and returned home with Pietro. 

Giulietta became straightway very glad of heart, 
and every hour before she could wed her Romeo 
was to her as a thousand years. Romeo, for his 
part, felt just as gay and full of spirits, as he 
talked with his servant of it all. When Friday 
came, Madame Giovanna, Giulietta's mother, took 
her daughter and serving-women, and went to 
the San Francesco convent; and on entering the 
church she asked for Fra Lorenzo. The friar had 


already taken Romeo into his cell where he heard 
confessions, and had locked him in. Then he 
went to Madame Giovanna, who said to him: 
" Father, I came to confess myself betimes, and I 
have also brought Giulietta with me, for I know 
that all the day you will be busy hearing the 
many confessions of your spiritual sons and 
daughters." Giving them his blessing, the friar 
passed into the convent and entered the confes- 
sional where Romeo was, while Giulietta followed 
as the first to present herself for confession. 

When she had entered, and closed the door, 
she made a sign to the friar that she was 
within. He then raised the wicket, and after the 
usual greetings said : " My daughter, Romeo tells 
me that you have consented to take him as your 
husband, and that he is minded to make you his 
wife. Are you both still so disposed ? " The 
lovers answered that this was all that they de- 
sired, whereupon the friar, after saying certain 
things in praise of holy matrimony, pronounced 
those words which the Church has ordained to 
be spoken at marriages, and Romeo then gave 
his dear Giulietta the ring, much to their mutual 
delight. They arranged to meet that night, and 


after kissing each other through the opening of 
the wicket, Romeo cautiously quitted the cell and 
the convent, and gaily went about his business. 
The friar closed the grating so that it might 
seem as if nothing had been removed, and then 
heard the glad maiden's confession, as well as 
that of her mother and the serving-women. 

When night had come, at the hour fixed, 
Romeo went with Pietro to a certain garden. 
Helped by the latter he climbed the wall, and 
let himself down into the garden, where he found 
his bride waiting for him with the nurse. On 
seeing Giulietta, he went to meet her with out- 
stretched arms. Giulietta did the same, and, 
winding her arms about his neck, she remained 
for a while speechless — overcome, as it were, by 
such supreme delight, while her ardent lover wds 
filled with a like rapture, and it seemed to him 
that never before had he tasted pleasure such as 
this. In mutual kisses then they took infinite, 
unspeakable delight, and, withdrawing to a corner 
of the garden where there was a bench, they then 
and there consummated the marriage. 

After much delicious dalliance, Romeo and his 
lovely bride made arrangements for a future meet- 


ing, resolving to discover what Messer Antonio 
would say with regard to the union and the 
making of peace. Then, after kissing his dear 
wife a thousand times, Romeo left the garden, 
saying joyfully to himself, "What man is there 
alive more happy than myself? Who is there 
that shall equal me in love ? Or who ever 
possessed so fair and winsome a damsel as 
mine ? " Nor did Giulietta deem herself less 
fortunate, since to her it seemed impossible that 
any youth could be found who in beauty, courtesy, 
and gracious bearing might equal her Romeo ; 
and she anxiously waited until things might be 
so arranged that she could freely enjoy him 
without fear. Thus, on some days they met, 
while on others they forbore. 

Meantime Fra Lorenzo tried all he could to 
effect a peace between the Montecchi and the 
Capelletti, and had brought matters to such a 
likely pass that he hoped to make the secret 
alliance a source of satisfaction to both parties. 
But at Easter-time it happened that several men 
of the Capelletti faction fell in with others of the 
Montecchi near the Borsari Gate facing Castel 
Vecchio, and, being armed, they fiercely attacked 


them. Among the Capelletti was Tebaldo, Giu- 
lietta's first cousin, a stalwart youth who urged his 
comrades to give the Montecchi a sound thrash- 
ing and respect no one. The scuffle grew fiercer, 
when each side was reinforced with men and arms ; 
so furious indeed became the fighters, that, recking 
nothing, they dealt each other grievous wounds. 

Suddenly Romeo appeared upon the scene, who 
besides his henchmen had certain young fellows 
with him, who accompanied him in a jaunt about 
the city. Seeing his kinsmen fighting with the 
Capelletti he was greatly troubled, for he knew 
of the friar's scheme for peace, and felt doubly 
desirous that no dispute should arise. Therefore, 
to calm the disturbance, he called out to his 
comrades and servants, being heard by many 
others in the street : " Brothers, let us part these 
fellows, and see to it that, at all costs, the fray 
goes no further, but compel them to lay down 
their arms." Then he endeavoured to separate 
the combatants, while his friends did likewise, and 
tried their best by words and deeds to stop the 
fight. It was a vain attempt, however, the fury 
of either side having now reached such a pitch 
that blows fell thick and fast. 


Two or three men had already fallen when 
Tebaldo, coming sideways at Romeo, dealt him 
a lusty stroke in the flank; but as he wore a 
corselet of mail, he was not wounded, as the 
blade could not pierce it. Then, turning towards 
Tebaldo, he said in friendly fashion : " Tebaldo, 
you are in great error if you think that I have 
come to pick a quarrel with you or with your 
people. I happened to be here by chance, and 
have tried to get my men away, being desirous 
that we should live like peaceful citizens. There- 
fore I beg you to do the same with your fellows, 
so that no further scandal ensue, for there has 
been bloodshed enough already." 

Nearly all present heard these words spoken, 
but Tebaldo, either not understanding or not 
choosing to understand them, rushed wildly at 
Romeo to strike him on the head, crying out, 
" Traitor ! you are a dead man ! " Romeo wore 
gauntlets of mail, and, wrapping his cloak round 
his left arm, held this up to protect his head, 
and, turning the point of his sword towards his 
adversary, he ran him right through the throat, 
piercing it again and again, so that Tebaldo in- 
stantly fell, dead. Then there was a great outcry, 


and as the officers of the court now came up the 
combatants escaped, some this way, and others 
that. Grieved beyond measure that he had killed 
Tebaldo, Romeo, with several of his folk, went to 
San Francesco, and hid himself in Fra Lorenzo's 
chamber. The good friar, at the news of young 
Tebaldo's death, was in despair, for he feared that 
now there would be no means of removing the 
hatred between the two families. The Capelletti 
in a body went to Signor Bartolomeo, the 
Governor, to lodge a complaint, while the Mon- 
tecchi sought to defend Romeo, as there were 
many who could testify to his forbearance until 
Tebaldo attacked him. Thus either party argued 
hotly before Signor Bartolomeo. As it was 
proved that the Capelletti had been the assailants, 
while to Romeo's pacifying words several trust- 
worthy citizens bore witness, the Governor made 
all of them lay down their arms, and banished 
Romeo from Verona. 

In the house of the Capelletti there was great 
mourning for the death of their Tebaldo, while 
Giulietta's tears fell without ceasing, not for the 
loss of her cousin, but because all hope had 

vanished of the alliance, and she grieved greatly. 
vol. 1. N 


and bemoaned her fate, as she could not conceive 
how the thing would end. Learning through Fra 
Lorenzo where Romeo was, she wrote him a 
most sorrowful letter and sent it to the friar by 
her old nurse. She knew that Romeo had been 
banished and that he must instantly quit Verona, 
so she affectionately besought him to let her go 
with him. Romeo wrote back cheering words 
and bade her be patient, as in time he would 
make everything right. He had not yet deter- 
mined to what place he would go, but he would 
stay as near Verona as possible, and before leav- 
ing he would make every effort to meet her once 
more, and speak with her in whatever place was 
most convenient to herself. 

As the least dangerous spot, she chose the 
garden in which she had passed her wedding- 
night ; and accordingly at the time fixed Romeo, 
armed, came out of the convent, and, with his 
trusty servant Pietro, went to the garden, where 
Giulietta received him with floods of tears. For 
a while they were silent, unable to speak a word, 
drinking, as they kissed, each other's tears, and 
mourning bitterly for this sudden separation and 
all the adversities of fate. As the time for part- 


ing drew near, Giulietta fervently besought her 
husband to take her with him, saying, "Dear 
my lord, I will cut off these locks of mine and 
don a page's dress, and wherever you please to 
go, there will I always come too, and lovingly do 
your behests. What more faithful servant could 
you have than I ? Oh, my own dear husband, 
grant me this boon, and let your fortune be my 
fortune also, that what befalls you may befall 
me likewise ! " With tender words Romeo sought 
to comfort her as best he might, assuring her that 
it was his firm belief that ere long his sentence 
of banishment would be revoked, as of this the 
Prince had already given his father some hope. 
Moreover, if he took her with him, it should not 
be in the garb of a page, but as his bride and 
his wife, whom he would see honourably attended 
as befitted her rank. His term of banishment, 
so he said, would not exceed a year, and if 
meanwhile no friendly truce were established 
between the factions, the Lord of Verona would 
see to it that at all hazards, and whether they 
wished it or not, they did become reconciled. 
Nay, if the matter were protracted overmuch, he 
would go over to the other side, since he could 


not live long without his Giulietta. Then he told 
her to send him news of herself by letter, and 
said much else to comfort her, but Giulietta was 
inconsolable, and could only weep. Now, as the 
lights of dawn showed faint in the east, the 
sorrowing lovers kissed and embraced each other 
as before with many tears and sighs, then said 

Romeo returned to the convent, while Giulietta 
went back to her chamber; and two or three days 
later, having laid his plans, he left Verona dis- 
guised as a merchant, having trusty companions 
about him, with whom he travelled in safety to 
Mantua. Here he took a house, for his father 
kept him supplied with money, and provided in 
every way for his honourable maintenance. 

All day, and every day, Giulietta wept and 
sighed, scarcely eating or .sleeping, her nights 
being as unrestful as her days. Noticing her 
daughter's grief, Giulietta's mother often questioned 
her as to its cause, telling her that it was time to 
eease such sorrowing, and that she had mourned 
overmuch for her cousin's death. Giulietta said 
that she did not know what ailed her, and when- 
ever she could escape from the company she 


gave vent to her grief with tears, so that she 
grew thin and sad, and all unlike the lovely 
Giulietta that once she was. Romeo kept her 
comforted by frequent letters, always giving her 
hope that soon they would be together again. 
He urgently besought her to be of good cheer 
and to let merriment dispel her melancholy, as 
all things were working together for good. Vain, 
however, was such counsel, as, without Romeo, 
she could get no cure for all her grief. 

The mother thought that the girl's chagrin 
came from a desire to have a husband, as some 
of her companions had recently been married. 
Possessed by this idea, she told her lord of it, 
and said, " Husband, our daughter Giulietta leads 
a most miserable life, for she does nothing but 
weep and sigh, and, whenever she can, she shuns 
the society of every one. I have often asked her 
the reason of this sorrowing, and, indeed, have 
closely watched her on all sides to try and dis- 
cover it, but I have never succeeded. She always 
has the same answer, to wit, that she does not 
know what ails her, while all the servants shrug 
their shoulders and say they cannot tell. Some 
grievous passion of a truth torments her, and it 


is evident that she is wasting away as wax before 
the fire. Of the thousand reasons that I have 
imagined, one alone remains in my mind, and it 
is this — I greatly suspect that her grief comes 
from the fact that, last Carnival - time, some of 
her girl companions were married, while there is 
no talk of finding a husband for her. This next 
feast of Saint Euphemia she will be eighteen, so, 
husband mine, I thought I would say a word to 
you about it, as it seems to me that the time has 
come for you to find her a worthy and honourable 
husband, and not let her remain longer unwed, for 
she's hardly the sort of goods to keep by us at home." 
Messer Antonio thought his wife's speech apt 
enough, and he replied: "Since you could make 
nothing, wife, of our daughter's melancholy, and 
as you think she ought to have a husband, I will 
do my best to get her one that shall in all re- 
spects be worthy of our house. Meanwhile, do 
you try and find out if she be in love, and let her 
say who the husband is that she prefers." Madame 
Giovanna declared that she would do all in her 
power, and make fresh inquiries of her daughter, 
and of others about the house. However, she 
could learn nothing. 


Just at this time Messer Antonio's choice 
happened to fall upon the Count Paris di Lodrone, 
a very handsome and very rich young man, about 
twenty-four or twenty-five years of age. There 
seemed good hope of successfully arranging the 
match, and Messer Antonio told his wife of this. 
Thinking such an alliance most desirable, she in 
turn told Giulietta, who at the news became as 
one beside herself with grief. Perceiving this, 
Madame Giovanna was much annoyed, not know- 
ing the cause of her daughter's discontent. 

After much arguing, she said : " Well, daughter 
mine, as I take it, you wish for no husband ; " to 
which Giulietta answered, "No, mother, I do not 
desire to wed; and, if you love me or care for 
me, never talk to me about a husband." "What 
do you want, then," rejoined her mother, " if you 
will not have a husband ? Will you be a nun ? 
Tell me frankly what you wish." Giulietta said 
that she did not want to be a nun; all that she 
desired was to die. At this answer the mother 
was filled with amazement and displeasure, and 
she knew neither what to say nor what to do. 
Those of the household were equally surprised, 
and could only affirm that ever since her cousin's 


death Giulietta had been exceedingly sorrowful, 
weeping incessantly, and never showing herself at 
the windows. Having heard all from his wife, 
Messer Antonio sent for his daughter, and after 
some expostulation said : " My daughter, as you 
are now at a marriageable age, I have found a 
noble, rich, and handsome husband for you in the 
Count di Lodrone, therefore do as I bid you and 
get you ready to accept him, for it is seldom 
that matches as honourable as this are made." 
Hereupon, with more courage than befits a girl, 
Giulietta frankly answered that she did not wish 
to be married. The father was greatly incensed, 
and in his choler came near to striking her. 

However, he only sharply scolded her with 
many harsh words, finally telling her that, whether 
she liked it or not, she must make up her mind 
in three or four days to go with her mother and 
other kinsfolk to Villafranca, where Count Paris 
and his companions intended to visit her. More- 
over she must show no further opposition to this 
plan, if she did not wish him to break her head, 
and make of her the sorriest daughter that had 
ever been born. Giulietta's discomfiture may well 
be imagined; in sooth she was as if struck by 


gome fiery thunderbolt. Upon recovering herself, 
she let Romeo know everything, by means of Fra 
Lorenzo. Romeo wrote back bidding her be of good 
courage, as in a short while he would come and 
take her away with him to Mantua. So she was 
forced to go to Villafranca, where her father had 
a very beautiful estate. She went just as gaily 
as convicts go to crucifixion or the gallows. 
Count Paris, who was there, saw her in church 
at mass, and, albeit haggard, pale, and sad of 
mien, she pleased him; so he came to Verona, 
where the marriage was concluded with Messer 
Antonio. Giulietta also returned to Verona, 
when her father told her that the marriage- 
contract had been signed, and exhorted her to 
be cheerful. Struggling to show a brave front, 
she kept back the tears that rose in torrents to 
her eyes, as answer she made none. The 
wedding, so she learnt, was fixed for the middle 
of next September; so not knowing where to 
turn for help, she decided to go herself and see 
Fra Lorenzo, and take counsel with him as to 
how she might escape from these nuptials. 
■ The festival of the glorious Assumption of the 
ever-blessed Virgin,. Mother of our Redeemer, now 


drew near, when Giulietta, profiting by the chance, 
went to her mother and said: "I neither know 
nor can I imagine the source of this deep melan- 
choly that thus oppresses me, yet ever since 
Tebaldo's death I have never been happy, and it 
would seem that I am getting worse, since nothing 
serves to cheer me. Therefore, at this blessed 
Feast of the Assumption, I would fain attend con- 
fession, as perhaps in this way I shall gain some 
comfort in my tribulation. Sweet my mother, what 
say you ? Do you think that I should do so ? If 
there be some other road that in your opinion I 
ought to take, I pray you show it to me, since in 
my own mind nothing seems clear to me." 

Madame Giovanna, being a good soul and very 
religious, was glad to hear of her daughter's inten- 
tion, and highly commended her for it. Accordingly 
they went together to San Francesco, to see Fra 
Lorenzo. When he had entered the confessional, 
Giulietta, going in at the opposite side, presented 
herself before him and said : " Holy Father, no one 
better than you yourself knows what has trans- 
pired between my husband and myself, so there is 
no need for me to repeat it here. You will also 
remember to have read the letter that I forwarded 


through you to Romeo, in which I told him that 
my father had made me the affianced bride of 
Count Paris di Lodrone. Romeo wrote back that 
he would come and save me, but God only knows 
when that will be. Now as matters stand, they 
have decided to have the wedding next September, 
and as the time draws near, I see no way to escape 
from this Lodrone, who should rather be called 
ladrone (thief) and assassin, since he would steal 
the property of another. Father, I have therefore 
come to you for counsel and help. These words 
that Romeo writes, ' I will come and set things 
right,' are not enough to get me out of the trap. 
I am Romeo's wife, with whom I have consummated 
marriage, and I can never be another's ; nay, even 
if I could, I would not, for I mean to be his, and 
his eternally. Your help, then, and your counsel 
are what I need. Listen to what I thought of 
doing. I want you, father, to procure me a boy's 
dress with doublet and hose, so that, thus clad, 
I may leave Verona late one evening or early 
one morning. No one will recognise me, and I 
can go straight away to Mantua, to my Romeo's 

When the friar heard this imprudent plan, he 


was little pleased thereat, and said : " My daughter, 
this scheme of yours cannot be carried out, for 
you would run too great a risk. A damsel so 
tenderly nurtured as yourself could not bear the 
fatigue of such a journey, for you are not used 
to travel on foot, nor do you know the way, so 
that you would wander about hither and thither. 
As soon as your father discovered your absence 
from home, he would send spies to all the gates 
of the city and along all the main roads of the 
country round about; and without a doubt they 
would soon find you. When you had been brought 
home, your father would want to know the reason 
for your escaping thus in the dress of a man. 
How you would bear their threats and ill-usage 
I know not, and in your luckless endeavour to 
reach Romeo you would lose all hope of ever 
seeing him again." 

At the friar's sagacious words, Giulietta grew 
calmer, and she replied : " Since my plan does 
not seem to you a good one, Father, and as I 
have full belief in you, pray give me your advice, 
and show me how to cut the hateful knot that 
binds me, so that possibly with less peril I may 
rejoin my Romeo, for I cannot live without him. 


And if you can help me in no other way, pre- 
vent me at least from becoming another's, if 
Romeo's I may not be. He told me of your 
fame as a distiller of herbs and other things, and 
that you prepare a water which, without causing 
any pain, can kill a man in a couple of hours. 
Give me some of this; enough to free me from 
the hands of that ladrone, seeing that to restore 
me to Romeo is out of your power. Loving me 
as I know he loves me, he will be content that 
I should die rather than fall alive into the hands 
of others. Moreover you will save me and my 
house from grievous shame, and if there be no 
other way to rescue me from this tempestuous 
sea, on which I drift as some wrecked and 
rudderless bark, I swear it, that some night with 
a keen-edged dagger, in a frenzy, I will slit open 
the veins of my throat, being resolved to die 
rather than remain untrue to Romeo." 

The friar was a great experimentalist, who in 
his day had travelled in various countries, de- 
lighting to gather new knowledge. He was 
specially well acquainted with the virtues residing 
in herbs and minerals, being one of the most 
famous distillers of the time. Among other 


sleep-giving preparations, he made a paste, which 
afterwards he reduced to a very fine powder of 
truly marvellous efficacy. For, if dissolved in a 
little water, whoever drank it fell asleep in less 
than half an hour, and the draught had such a 
calming effect upon the vital forces that there 
was no physician, however famous or expert, who 
would not declare the drinker of it to be dead — 
a delicious death, lasting sometimes forty hours 
and sometimes more, according to the bodily 
temperament of those who took the draught. 
When the powder had done its work, the man 
or the woman awoke just as from some long, 
calm, restful sleep; and it caused them no harm 

Now when the friar heard the disconsolate 
damsel's resolve, from sheer pity he was like to 
weep as he replied : " See now, my daughter, you 
must not talk of dying, for of a surety if once 
you die you will not return until the Judgment 
Day, when all the dead shall be raised together. 
I would have you think of living as long as it 
shall please God, for He gave you life and He 
preserves it, and, when it seems to Him good, 
He takes it back again. Thus put away from 


you such melancholy thoughts. You are young, 
and must endeavour to live and enjoy your 
Romeo. We will find some remedy for it all, 
never fear. In this magnificent city, as you see, 
I am held by all in high repute, yet if folk 
should discover that I knew of your marriage, it 
would bring me infinite harm and shame. And 
if I gave you poison, what then ? I have none, 
but if I had, I would not give you any, because 
it would be to sin grievously against God, and 
also because I should utterly lose my credit. 
Nevertheless, O my daughter, I will gladly do 
all I can for you, so that you may remain 
Romeo's bride, and not become the wife of this 
Lodrone. Nor shall you die; but it behoves us 
to act so that no one shall know of the matter. 
You, for your part, must be resolute and brave, 
and determine to do as I bid you, though this 
shall not cause you the least harm. Listen, then, 
to what I mean you to do." 

Then the friar showed the damsel his sleeping- 
powder and explained to her its virtues, and that 
he had often tried it, but had never found it fail 
in its effect. 

"My daughter," said he, "this powder is so 


precious that it will give you a harmless sleep, 
and all the time you thus quietly rest, if Galen, 
Hippocrates, Messue, Avicenna, and all the most 
famous physicians past and present were to see 
you and feel your pulse, with one voice they 
would all declare you to be dead. And when the 
powder has done its work, you will awake as 
healthy and as fresh as when at morning you 
leave your couch. At the first signs of dawn 
you must drink the potion, when you will gradu- 
ally fall asleep, and when the hour for rising 
comes your kinsfolk will endeavour to wake 
you, but in vain. Your pulse will have ceased 
to beat, and you will be as cold as ice. When 
summoned, doctors and relatives will one and 
all pronounce you dead, and at evening time you 
will be buried in the vault of the Capelletti. 
There, at your ease, you will rest for a night 
and a day, and the next night Romeo and I will 
come to take you hence (for meanwhile I shall 
inform him of our plan by special messenger), 
and he will secretly convey you to Mantua and 
keep you there in hiding, until this blessed 
peace be concluded between your house and his. 
If you cannot adopt this course, I do not see 


how I can help you in any other way. But, as 
I have said, see to it that you keep the matter 
secret and to yourself, or you will spoil things 
for both of us." 

Giulietta, who to find Romeo would have gone 
into a fiery furnace, to say nothing of a sepul- 
chre, implicitly believed all that the friar said, 
and without another thought consented to his 
proposal, saying, "Father, I will do all that you 
tell me, and I place myself in your hands. Never 
fear that I shall say aught of the thing to any 
one, for I will keep it a profound secret." 

Then the friar hurried back to his room, and 
brought the damsel a small spoonful of the powder, 
which he wrapped up in a piece of paper. Giulietta 
put this in her wallet, and thanked Fra Lorenzo 
many times, who could scarcely believe that a 
girl should have such courage and assurance as 
to let herself be shut up in a tomb with the 
dead ; and he said to her : " Say, now, my daughter, 
shall you not be afraid of your cousin Tebaldo, 
who was but lately killed, and who lies in the 
vault where you will be placed ? By this time he 
must stink horribly." " My father," replied the in- 
trepid damsel, " fear nothing on that score, for if by 

vol. 1. o 


suffering the grievous torments of hell I thought 
I should find Romeo, for me the eternal fire would 
have no terrors." " So be it, then," answered the 
friar, " in the name of our Lord God." 

Giulietta then joyfully returned to her mother, 
and as they went home together she said : " Mother 
dearest, of a truth Fra Lorenzo is a most holy man. 
With his sweet and pious counsel he has given 
me such comfort that he has almost dispelled the 
deep melancholy that oppressed me, and so de- 
voutly did he discourse to me upon the subject of 
my ailment, that nothing better nor more apt can 
be imagined." Madame Giovanna noticed that her 
daughter was more than usually gay, and, hearing 
this, her joy knew no bounds as she replied, 
" God bless you, my dearest daughter ! Right glad 
am I to think that you have begun to be of 
good cheer, and for this we are greatly beholden 
to our spiritual father. We must be good to 
him and help him with our alms, for the mon- 
astery is poor, and each day he says a prayer to 
God for us. Bear him often in mind, and send 
him some goodly alms." 

Madame Giovanna really believed that Giulietta 
by this apparent gaiety had got rid of her 


melancholy, so she told this to her husband, who 
shared her satisfaction thereat, and they both 
ceased to suspect that she was love-sick for 
some one, believing that her grief had arisen from 
her cousin's death, or from some other strange 
cause. Indeed she seemed over-young to marry, 
and, if they could have done so with honour, 
they would willingly have kept her yet for two 
or three years before getting her a husband. 
But the contract with the Count was already 
concluded, and this could not be undone without 
scandal. A day for the marriage was accordingly 
fixed, and rich dresses and jewels were got 
ready for Giulietta to wear. She continued to 
seem light-hearted and gay, laughing and joking 
with all, while every hour seemed to her as a 
thousand years, before that one came for her to 
drink the potion. 

On the evening which preceded the Sunday 
fixed for her wedding day, the damsel, saying 
nothing to any one, placed a goblet filled with 
water at the head of her bed. This was not 
noticed by her nurse. That night she hardly 
slept at all, being full of thoughts, and when the 
dawn drew near, at which time she was to drink 


the potion, she pictured Tebaldo to herself as 
she had seen him, with all the blood streaming 
from a gash in his throat. She thought how she 
would have to lie beside him, perhaps upon him, 
and that in the vault there were many moulder- 
ing bodies and bare bones. The fear of it sent 
a cold shiver through her frame, her every hair 
stood on end, and for sheer terror she trembled 
like a leaf in the gale. An icy sweat overspread 
her limbs, and it seemed to her on a sudden as 
if she were being torn into pieces by the sheeted 
dead in that tomb. Then, her fears giving place 
to courage, she said to herself: "Alas! what is 
this that I am about to do ? Where am I going 
to let them put me? How shall I bear the 
noisome stench of Tebaldo's rotting corpse, when 
at home the least evil smell is unendurable to 
me ? Who knows if some serpent or a thousand 
other hideous reptiles be not in the tomb — ver- 
min abhorred and loathed by me ? If courage 
fails me to look at them, how shall I bear to 
have them about me and to feel them touch me ? 
Have I not often heard them say what fearful 
things happen at night, not only in tombs but 
also in churches and gravevards ? " 


This grim fancy brought to her imagination a 
thousand others more grisly still, and she half 
determined not to take the powder — in fact, she 
very nearly scattered it about the floor, being 
distraught by many strange and conflicting 
thoughts, some prompting her to take it, and 
others to reflect upon the hideous perils that 
would surround her if she did. However, at the 
last, as the dawn peered forth from her orient 
balcony, being spurred thereto by her fervent 
and vivid love for Romeo, which only grew 
greater in all this trouble, she boldly drank off 
the potion at a draught; and, lying down, she 
soon fell asleep. 

The old nurse, being in bed with her, had 
noticed that the girl scarcely slept all night, but 
she never saw her drink the potion, and, rising, 
went about her household duties as usual. When 
the time came for Giulietta to wake, the old crone 
came back to the room, crying, "Get up, get up! 
it is time to rise ! " and she threw open the 
windows. Seeing that Giulietta never moved nor 
made the least sign of rising, she shook her, 
saying, "Get up, slug-a-bed, get up!" But the 
good old woman's words fell upon deaf ears. So 


she began to shake Giulietta as hard as she 
could, pulling her by the nose and pinching her, 
but all her efforts were in vain. The powder 
had so frozen and fettered her vital spirits that 
not the loudest, most appalling thunderclaps in 
the world could have roused her with their tre- 
mendous clamour. The old nurse, being horrified 
to find that the girl was as senseless as a 
corpse, believed she must be dead, and, weeping 
bitterly, she ran to find Madame Giovanna, to 
whom, half hindered by sobs, she cried breath- 
lessly : " Madam, your daughter is dead." The 
mother rushed, weeping, to the room, and when 
she found her daughter in this state, needless to 
say, she was almost overwhelmed with grief. 
Up to the stars rose her grievous lamentations; 
they would have touched stones to pity, or softened 
savage tigers when most wrathful at the loss of 
their whelps. 

The women's cries were now heard all over 
the house, and every one ran to the bedchamber. 
Giulietta's father came with the rest, and when 
he found his girl cold as ice, without any visible 
sign of life, he was fain to die of grief. The 
news spread quickly, and soon the whole city 


heard of it. Friends and kinsfolk flocked straight- 
way to the house, and the more they came the 
greater grew the general lamentation. The most 
famous physicians of the city were instantly 
summoned, who applied all their most efficacious 
remedies, but without effect. Then, hearing what 
life the girl had led for several days, and that 
during this time she had done nothing but weep 
and sigh, they all with one opinion declared that 
she had died suffocated by intense grief. This 
only served to redouble the universal sorrowing, 
as all Verona bewailed so cruel and so unfore- 
seen a death ; but more than they all the mother 
mourned, refusing to take any comfort whatever. 
Three times when embracing her daughter she 
fainted, and herself seemed like a corpse, so that 
grief followed grief, and sorrow was added unto 
sorrow. All the women about her strove as best 
they might to console her, but she had given 
reins to her grief in such a way, and had let 
herself be so transported thereby, that in despair 
she understood nothing of all that was said to 
her. All that she did was to weep and to sigh, 
screaming and tearing her hair like one de- 
mented. Messer Antonio was as greatly dis- 


tressed as she, though he gave less vent to his 
grief in tears. 

That morning Fra Lorenzo wrote a long letter 
to Romeo, informing him of the potion scheme 
and of what had occurred ; telling him also that 
on the following night he would go and bring 
Giulietta out of the tomb and take her back to 
his chamber. Romeo must therefore endeavour 
to come disguised to Verona, and he would wait 
for him until midnight on the following day, and 
then they would adopt such measures as might 
seem to them best. The letter being written and 
sealed, Fra Lorenzo gave it to a trustworthy friar, 
with strict injunctions to set out for Mantua that 
very day and find Romeo Montecchio. To him 
he was to deliver the letter, but to no other 
person, whoever he might be. 

The friar started off and reached Mantua early 
in the day, dismounting at the Franciscan con- 
vent. Having put up his horse, he asked the 
Father Superior to let him have a companion to 
take him about the city and help him to do his 
business. But he discovered that shortly before 
one of the friars of this convent had died, and 
there was just a suspicion that his death was 


due to the plague. The health officers unani- 
mously declared him a victim to this disease, and 
they were the more certain of this because in 
his groin was found a tumour much bigger than 
an egg — proof positive that he had died of this 
pestilent malady. So it chanced that just as the 
Veronese friar was asking for a companion, the 
health officers arrived and ordered the Father 
Superior under grave penalties to let no one go 
forth from the convent. The friar protested that 
he had only just arrived from Verona, and had 
not associated with any one in the convent. But 
his protests were vain, and he was perforce 
obliged to remain there with the other friars, so 
that he never gave that blessed letter to Romeo, 
nor sent him any message, which brought about 
the direst evil and scandal, as you shall hear 

Meanwhile in Verona they prepared solemn 
funeral obsequies for the damsel whom all be- 
lieved to be dead, and they decided that the 
burial should take place late that evening. 
On hearing of Giulietta's death, Pietro, Romeo's 
servant, was filled with consternation, and he 
decided to go to Mantua, but after the funeral; 


so that he might tell his master that he had 
actually seen her dead. He resolved to start 
from Verona and ride all night, reaching Mantua 
when the gates were opened. Accordingly, at 
late evening, amid the grief of the whole city, 
Giulietta was borne on a bier towards San Fran- 
cesco, the pomp of her train being swelled by 
all the clerical and civic dignitaries of Verona. 
Distress at the sad event had so dazed Pietro, 
who knew how passionately his master loved the 
girl, that he never thought of speaking to Fra 
Lorenzo, as he usually did. Had he seen the 
friar, he would have heard about the sleeping- 
draught, and, by telling Romeo, would have 
averted all the ills that ensued. Being well 
assured that it was Giulietta whom they carried 
on the bier, he mounted his horse and rode at a 
good rate to Villafranca, where he stopped a 
while for rest and refreshment. Then, starting 
again two hours before daybreak, he reached 
Mantua at sunrise, and went to his master's 

Let us now go back to Verona. When the 
damsel had been brought into the church and 
over her bier the customary solemn service for 


the dead had been chanted, about the midmost 
hour of the night she was laid in the vault. 
This was of marble and very spacious, being 
situated in the graveyard outside the church, 
one side of it touching the wall, with an enclosed 
space adjoining, where, when another corpse was 
laid in the vault, the bones of those previously 
interred were flung. When the vault was opened, 
Fra Lorenzo dragged Tebaldo's body to one side 
of it, and after it had been swept and made 
clean he had the damsel gently placed therein, 
with a little pillow at her head. Then he closed 
the tomb. 

On reaching the house, Pietro found his master 
in bed, and for grievous sobs and tears could say 
not a word when presenting himself before him. 
This greatly astonished Romeo, who, thinking of 
ills other than those which had actually occurred, 
said : " How now, Pietro ? What is amiss ? What 
news do you bring me from Verona ? How goes it 
with my father and the rest of our family ? Speak, 
nor keep me longer in suspense. What can it be 
that grieves you thus? Quick, tell me!" 

Then Pietro, giving vent to his emotion, in 
broken accents told him of Giulietta's death, and 


how he himself had seen her borne to the sepul- 
chre, her death, as they said, being due to grief. 
The dread news nearly drove Romeo out of his 
mind, and, leaping from his bed in a frenzy, he 
cried : " Ah ! traitorous Romeo, perfidious, disloyal, 
and of all men most ungrateful ! Not grief it is 
that has slain your lady-love, for of grief one 
dies not, but it is you, cruel man, you that have 
been her executioner ; you have been her assassin ; 
you have done her to death ! She herself wrote 
to you that she would die rather than become 
another's bride, and besought you to take her 
away at all hazards from her father's house. 
But you, ungrateful one, laggard in love, and 
wretched mongrel that you are, you gave her 
your word that you would go and do everything, 
and bade her be of good cheer, while from day 
to day you put it off, never resolving to do her 
will. Now you have chosen to stay with your 
hands at your girdle; and Giulietta is dead. 
Dead she is ; and you are alive ! Oh ! traitor, 
how often did you write it to her, and with your 
own lips tell her that you could not live without 
her ! But you are living at this moment. Where, 
think you, is she? There in twilight beyond the 


grave she wanders, waiting for you to follow, as 
to herself she exclaims: 'Ah, what a liar, what 
a false lover and faithless husband is this ! for 
at the news of my death he yet can bear to 
remain alive ! ' Forgive me, oh, forgive me, my 
own dearest wife, for I confess my very grievous 
sin. As, however, my immeasurable grief may 
not for all its poignancy deprive me of life, my- 
self I will do its work, and slay myself with 
mine own hand ! " 

Then he grasped the sword hanging near the 
bed's head, and, wrenching it from its scabbard, 
set the point of the blade at his heart. But 
Pietro was quick enough to prevent him from 
wounding himself, and disarmed him in a trice, 
snatching the sword from his hand, as, like a 
faithful servant, he respectfully chid his master 
for such madness, bidding him take comfort and 
live, as the dead girl was beyond all human help. 
The dreadful news had so stupefied Romeo, that, 
as it were, he became like stone or marble, while 
never a tear fell from his eyes. Looking at him, 
one might have thought it was a statue, not a 
man. But ere long tears came in torrents, and 
then he resembled a fountain where water welled 


in abundance. And the words that, thus weeping, 
he uttered, might have moved pity in the hearts 
of barbarians, however hard or adamantine these 
might be. When the first bitterness of his grief 
was spent, Romeo, swayed by passion, began to 
give way to evil and desperate thoughts, and, 
since his darling Giulietta was dead, he deter- 
mined nowise to remain alive. But of this dire 
intent he said not a word, hiding what was in 
his mind, so that by no servant nor another 
he might be hindered from carrying out his 
scheme. To Pietro, who was with him in the 
room, he gave injunctions to say nothing to any 
one of Giulietta's death, but bade him get two 
fresh horses saddled, as he was going back to 

"I want you," said he, "to go on first, as fast 
as you can, saying nothing to any one, and when 
you reach Verona do not tell my father that I 
am coming, but try and get picks and other iron 
tools necessary for opening the vault in which 
my wife is buried. For I shall arrive at Verona 
late to-night, and will go straight to your cottage 
at the back of our orchard. About the third or 
fourth hour of the night we will go to the grave- 


yard, for I would fain look once more upon my 
hapless wife as she lies there, dead. Then, all 
unrecognised, I will quit Verona betimes, you fol- 
lowing me a little way after ; and we will both 
return hither." 

Accordingly, soon after this Pietro started, and 
Romeo wrote a letter to his father, asking pardon 
for marrying without his permission, setting forth 
in full the story of his love and of his marriage. 
He also tenderly besought him to have a solemn 
service for the dead said at Giulietta's grave, as 
if it were for his daughter-in-law, and make this 
service a perpetual one by endowing it with the 
revenues which he (Romeo) possessed, as certain 
property had come to him from an aunt who, 
dying, had made him her heir. For Pietro also 
Romeo made such provision that he could live in 
ease without depending upon others for support. 
These two things he most urgently requested of 
his father, declaring it to be his last wish, and, as 
his aunt had died a few days before, he begged 
his father to give the first-fruits of her property 
to the poor. Sealing this letter, he put it in his 
bosom, and, taking a phial full of deadly poison, 
he dressed himself like a German and mounted 


his horse, telling the folk of his house that next 
day he would soon return. 

So he set out for Verona, travelling at great 
speed, and got there at the hour of the Ave Maria. 
He at once went to look for Pietro, who was at 
home, and had done all that he had been told to 
do. About the fourth hour of the night they 
both started for San Francesco, taking all neces- 
sary tools with them, and on reaching Giulietta's 
tomb they adroitly opened it and propped up the 
lid. Romeo had told Pietro to bring a dark 
lantern with him, which helped them not a little 
in their work. Entering the tomb, Romeo saw 
his darling wife lying there, to all appearance cold 
and dead. At the sight he swooned, and sank 
down at her side overcome with grief. Then, re- 
covering himself, he tenderly kissed and embraced 
her, bathing her face with scalding tears, as sobs 
choked his utterance. But after a long spell of 
weeping he found his voice, and spoke words 
that must have touched the hardest of hard hearts 
to pity. 

As he had resolved to be quit of life, he took 
the phial containing the poison, and putting it to 
his lips drained it at one draught. 


Then he called to Pietro, who kept watch in a 
corner of the graveyard, and bade him approach. 
So Pietro, climbing up, leaned over the mouth of 
the tomb, when Romeo thus addressed him : 

" Listen, Pietro ; my wife lies here, and you 
partly know how much I loved and still do love 
her. I felt that it was as impossible for me to 
live without her as for a body to exist without 
a soul, and so I brought poison with me — snake- 
water, which, as you know, can kill a man in less 
than an hour. This of my own free will I have 
drunk, so as to die here by the side of her whom 
living I so dearly loved ; and though in life I 
was not allowed to be with her, I shall at least 
lie beside her in the grave. See, here is the 
phial, which, if you recollect, we got of the 
Spoletine in Mantua — the fellow that had those 
live asps and snakes. Of His pity and infinite 
goodness may God pardon me, for not to offend 
against Him have I slain myself, but because 
without my dear wife I could not live. And if 
you see these eyes of mine full of tears, not for 
my lost youth do I weep, but because I grieve 
for her death — she deserved to live a happier, 

more tranquil life. Give this letter to my father; 
vol. 1. p 


I have written to him that which I wish done 
after my death; also about my burial here, and 
concerning my servants at Mantua. For you, 
who have served me so faithfully, I have made 
such provision that henceforth you will not need 
to become the servant of another; and I am sure 
that my father will carry out all my wishes to 
the letter. Now, get you hence, for death, I feel, 
is near; the poison overcomes me, and every 
limb grows numb. So, do you close the lid of 
the tomb, and leave me to die by my dear one's 
side." At these words Pietro felt as if, for very 
grief, his heart would break. All his remonstrances 
were vain, for there was no remedy against the 
poison, which now had gained hold of all parts 
of Romeo's body. Taking Giulietta in his arms, 
the lover kissed her unceasingly, and disposed 
himself to die, while again telling Pietro to shut 
down the lid. 

Just then Giulietta woke, as the effect of the 
powder had passed off. Feeling herself kissed, 
she thought it was the friar, who in a moment 
of carnal impulse was embracing her as he bore 
her back to his chamber. So she said, " Alas ! 
Fra Lorenzo, is this how you prove the trust 


that Romeo placed in you ? Back, I say ! " Then, 
as she struggled to free herself from his grasp, 
her eyes opened, and she found that he who 
embraced her was Romeo. Although he wore a 
German dress, she knew him well, and exclaimed : 
" Oh ! my dear heart, is it you ? Where is Fra 
Lorenzo ? Why do you not bring me out of this 
tomb ? Let us go away, for God's sake ! " 

At the sight of her eyes and the sound of her 
voice, Romeo knew of a certainty that Giulietta 
was not dead but verily alive, and he felt at 
once tremendous gladness and measureless, un- 
speakable grief. Straining her to his bosom, he 
cried, "Oh life of my life, and dearest heart of 
mine, what man has ever felt a joy like this 
which now possesses me? For I firmly believed 
you to be dead, but behold ! I clasp you alive 
and safe in my arms ! Yet what grief may 
match my grief? What torturing pain can vie 
with that which fills my heart, as I feel myselt 
reach the end of all my dolorous days, and as 
life slips from me now, when most I need it? 
For at the most I cannot live more than half-an- 
hour! What mortal ever felt at one and the 
same moment such rapturous joy and such infinite 


grief? Though, dearest consort, I rejoice un- 
speakably that you are come back to life, in- 
comparable sorrow covers me as I think that all 
too soon I may no longer see you, nor hear your 
voice, nor stay near you to enjoy your sweet 
company. But the gladness at your return to 
life far exceeds the sorrow at my own approach- 
ing death, and I pray the Lord God to give you 
those years of my hapless youth which now He 
takes away from me, letting you live long and 
have a far happier fate than mine, whose life, as 
I feel, now touches its close." 

Then Giulietta replied: "What is this, love, 
that you say? Do you come from Mantua to 
comfort me with such news? What is it that 
ails you?" Then Romeo told her how he had 
drunk the poison, and she exclaimed : " Alas ! 
and woe is me! What awful thing is this you 
tell me ? Fra Lorenzo never wrote to you of the 
plan which he and I had made? He promised 
me that he would inform you of it all by letter ! " 
And in her anguish the despairing damsel wept 
and shrieked, being well-nigh beside herself, as 
she told Romeo all that had befallen, and all 
that she and the friar had arranged. 


As thus she grieved, Romeo spied Tebaldo's 
corpse, and, turning to it, said : " Wherever now 
you be, Tebaldo, know this, that I never sought 
your harm. I joined the fray as a peace-maker, 
and to exhort you to get your men to withdraw, 
making my folk also lay down their arms. Yet, 
full of rage and ancient hatred, you cared nothing 
for my words, but with dire intent attacked me. 
Forced thereto, I lost patience, never ceding an 
inch, but, standing on my defence, as ill-luck 
would have it, I slew you. Now, for the harm 
I did your body, I crave your forgiveness, the 
more so as I was to have become your kinsman, 
by marrying this your cousin. If vengeance is 
what you desired, behold, you have it now. 
What greater vengeance would you have than to 
know that he who killed you has now poisoned 
himself in your presence, and dies here by his 
own hand, being buried with you in your tomb ? 
Though in life we fought, in death we shall rest 
at peace in the self-same grave." 

At these dolorous speeches Pietro, listening, 
became like a statue hewn out of marble. He 
knew not if he heard aright, or if he dreamed. 
Then Giulietta said to Romeo: "Since it has not 


pleased God that we should live together, may it 
please Him at least that I be buried with you in 
the tomb, for be sure that, come what may, I 
will never go hence without you." Romeo again 
embraced her, and, comforting her, besought her 
to live, that thus he might die happy in the 
belief that she would remain alive. Many things 
did he say to her, until, as strength and sight 
gradually failed him, he grew so weak that he 
sank down on the ground, and with his eyes 
turned piteously towards his sorrowing wife ex- 
claimed, "Alas! dear heart! I die." 

Now, for some reason or another, Fra Lorenzo 
did not wish to bear Giulietta to his chamber on 
the night of her burial, but next night, seeing 
that Romeo did not come, he went to the tomb 
with a trusty friar of his order, bringing tools 
wherewith to open it. He got there just as 
Romeo sank down in his death-agony. Seeing 
the tomb open, and recognising Pietro, he said : 
" Ho, there ! where is Romeo ? " Giulietta heard 
him, and cried : " May God forgive you for not 
sending the letter to Romeo !" "I did send it," 
replied the friar ; " Fra Anselmo took it : you 
know him. Why do you speak thus?" "Come 


into this place and you shall see," answered 
Giulietta, weeping bitterly. 

The friar entered, where Romeo lay half dead, 
and he said : " Romeo, my son, what is it ? what 
ails you ? " Then, with a languid look, Romeo 
recognised him, and bade him take care of Giu- 
lietta, since he was now past all living help or 
counsel; and, repenting him of all his sins, he 
craved forgiveness of him as of God. So saying, 
he feebly beat his breast, and then his eyes 
closed, and he lay there, dead. 

In excess of grief Giulietta fell senseless upon 
her husband's body, and remained for some while 
in a deep swoon. The friar and Pietro sought 
to revive her, and when she regained conscious- 
ness she gave vent to her tears as she kissed 
the corpse, and exclaimed : " Oh fairest home of all 
my thoughts and of my pleasures! my one and 
only darling lord, from being sweet how are you 
now become bitter! You have ended your course 
while yet in the flower of your lovely and plea- 
sant youth, caring nothing for a life that all 
others held so dear. You wished to die at a 
time when others most long to live, reaching that 
end to which sooner or later all must come. Oh, 


my lord, you came to die in the arms of her 
whom most you loved, and who loved you with a 
matchless love, for, thinking her dead and buried, 
you of your own free will were for burying 
yourself with her. Never did you deem that 
these her tears would fall for you; never did you 
think to pass over to the other world and not 
find her there. But soon, love, soon will I come 
to you, and stay with you for evermore ! " 

Distressed at her anguish, the friar and Pietro 
did all they could to comfort her, but in vain ; 
and Fra Lorenzo said at last: "My daughter, 
what is done cannot be undone. If mourning 
could bring back Romeo from the grave, one and 
all we would dissolve ourselves in tears, that so 
we might succour him; but for this thing no 
remedy exists. Take heart; be comforted, and 
hold on to life; if you desire not to return to 
your home, I will find shelter for you in a 
nunnery, where, in the service of God, you can 
pray for the soul of your Romeo." However, 
she would on no account listen to him; but, being 
resolved to die, she checked within her all her 
vital forces, and, embracing Romeo once more, 
straightway expired. 


As the friars and Pietro were busied with the 
dead girl, believing that she had swooned, the 
sergeants of the watch came along, and, seeing a 
light in the tomb, they all hurried thither, to 
seize Pietro and his companions. On being told 
the sad story, they left the two friars strongly 
guarded, and brought Pietro before Signor Bar- 
tolomeo, the Governor, and told him under what 
circumstances they had arrested him. Signor 
Bartolomeo caused the tale of the hapless lovers 
to be minutely narrated to him, and, as dawn had 
now come, he rose and went out to view the 

The report of the tragedy soon spread throughout 
all Verona, so that young and old flocked forth- 
with to the vault. Pietro and the friars were set 
at liberty, and the burial of the two lovers took 
place with great pomp, amid the great grief of 
the whole city. The Governor desired that they 
should be buried in the same grave, and this 
caused a peace to be made between the Mon- 
tecchi and Capelletti, though it did not last very 

OF a trick played upon the Prior of Modena 
and his monks ly an ass which got into 
the church one night, 

Y OU must know that in the venerable convent 
of St. Domenico at Modena (Fra Agostino Moro 
being prior at that time, as doubtless you are 
aware) there happened to be an excellent preacher 
on the third day of Easter. All through Lent he 
had preached to the general satisfaction of the 
whole city, and was now about to take leave of 
his congregation with such rites and ceremonies 
as preachers commonly adopt. When it got about 
that this was the Father's farewell sermon, all folk 
flocked to the church, so that it seemed as if the 
day were one of plenary indulgence. So hot and 
stifling had the church become with the crowd and 
the breath of so many men and women, that when 
the sermon was over (it had lasted from dinner- 
time to four o'clock) the friars found it passing 
difficult to chant vespers and compline together. 



Being a shrewd and thoughtful person, the sac- 
ristan opened all the doors and windows of the 
church to cool the air, waiting as long as he could 
before closing the great door, especially as at night- 
fall they were to bury there a man of very foul 
reputation, to whom, when dying, as all averred, 
the devil had appeared in the flesh, so that they 
thought he would be carried away, soul and body. 
When the funeral rites for this arch-sinner were 
ended, the sacristan closed the central door of the 
church, but left the one leading to the first cloister 
open, so that the church might grow cooler during 
the night. 

That same evening a friar arrived who had 
been preaching in the mountains, and brought his 
baggage with him upon a little ass as black as 
pitch, which he put up in a stable hard by. But, 
while all slept, the donkey, I know not how, got 
out of the stable and strayed into the cloister, 
where the grass was rich and tender. Here it 
stopped for a while to eat its fill. Then, being 
thirsty perhaps, it went sniffing about till it spied 
the vessel containing holy water, and drank it all 
up, as the friars next day discovered. Having 
eaten and drunk, it approached the grave of the 


wicked man, which had been filled in wifh sand, 
and, after turning round several times, stretched 
itself out there to rest. 

Now, at the first stroke of matins, it is usual 
for novices to go to the choir and set books and 
candles in readiness for chanting the service. So, 
at the time stated, two boys came in to prepare 
all that was necessary, and, passing through the 
sacristy, they saw Master Jackass stretched out 
upon the grave. His eyes looked like two great 
burning coals, while his long ears seemed for all 
the world like a pair of horns. Darkness, that 
fosterer and ally of fear, the thought of the newly- 
buried sinner, and the sight of so horrible a brute 
at such an hour fairly robbed the poor timid lads 
of their senses, and they firmly believed that the 
beast was none other than the devil. So, in their 
terror, they fled as fast as their legs would carry 
them; and he who ran swiftest deemed himself 
very lucky. On reaching the dormitory, breath- 
less and speechless, they met some of the friars 
going to the choir, among these being the master 
of the novices. Seeing by the light that burns 
all night long in the dormitory that the boys 
had come back, he asked them why they had not 


gone to prepare for matins, when in great fear 
and trembling they told him that on the grave 
of the man buried overnight they had actually 
seen the enemy of mankind. 

The good monk, by no means the most cour- 
ageous of men, began to tremble with fear, un- 
certain whether to go down into the church or 
not. Just then Fra Giovanni Mascarello came up, 
leader of the choir, and an excellent musician. 
Hearing the lads' story, he boldly ran down and 
went into the church. Here he saw the brute 
crouched on the grave, with ears erect because of 
the noise it heard, and, quickly turning his back 
to it, he slammed the door of the sacristy and 
rushed upstairs, screaming at the top of his 
voice, " Patres miei, it is indeed the devil, the 
enemy of mankind." This he repeated again and 
again. As you know, he has a very powerful 
voice, and he shouted so loud that there was 
not a friar in the convent who did not hear him. 
At last the Prior came out of his cell, and, ap- 
proaching Fra Giovanni, said, "What folly is 
this that you say ? Are you raving mad, or 
what is it? Be still, and do not make such a 
noise at this hour. In God's name what is the 


matter ? " " Holy Father," replied Fra Giovanni, 
"I am not raving mad, but I tell you that the 
devil is in the church, and with my own eyes I 
actually saw him on the grave of that wicked 
man whom we buried yester-eve. Methinks he 
has come to bear away the sinner's body with 
him to hell ! These lads, here, have seen him 

Having questioned the boys, who confirmed this 
statement, the Prior, with some of the monks 
whom the outcry had brought thither, went down 
into the church. Their imaginations being ex- 
cited by what they had heard, at the sight of 
the ass they all firmly believed that it was the 
Prince of Devils. So, quaking with fear, each 
made the sign of the cross and went back to the 
sacristy, whereupon the Prior, after brief con- 
sultation with the friars, had the big bell rung, 
which brought all the inmates of the monastery 
together, when he exhorted them to be of good 
courage and not to dread this devilish apparition. 
Emboldened by this speech, the friars went in 
a body to the sacristy, where they donned their 
sacred vestments, and took all the relics they 
possessed, so that each bore some holy thing in 


his hand. Then, the cross going before, they 
marched forth in procession, chanting with great 
fervour the Salve Regina. But Master Jackass 
remained completely at his ease through it all, 
never budging an inch from his self-chosen posi- 
tion. Few of the friars were brave enough to 
look at the brute, being firmly convinced that it 
was the devil, while none of them had the least 
idea that it was a donkey. When the Salve Re- 
gina had been sung and the beast showed no 
signs of moving, the Prior called for the book of 
exorcisms, which is used to drive out evil spirits 
from the bodies of those possessed, and he then 
read all those holy words which are meet on 
such emergencies, yet for all this master donkey 
never stirred. 

At last the Prior took the sprinkler used for 
holy water, and coming somewhat closer to the 
brute he raised his hand, and making the sign 
of the Cross, began to sprinkle holy water, never 
perceiving that the foul fiend of his imagination 
was none other than an ass. So he soused 
him soundly two or three times, when, either be- 
cause the water was cold or because he thought 
the sprinkling stick would hit him (for he saw 


the Prior continually raise his hand as if about 
to beat him), Master Neddy stood up on all fours 
and brayed with hideous vigour. By this ludicrous 
signal he proved to the Prior and the monks that 
he was not Satan after all, but an ass. The good 
friars were filled with confusion, not knowing what 
to say nor what to do. But the whole thing ended 
in loud laughter, as it seemed to them a mighty 
joke that young and old, philosophers and theo- 
logians, should one and all have been thus mocked 
by an ass. 

vol. 1. 

PANDOLFO DEL NERO is buried alive 
with his lady-love, and escapes from such 
peril hy a strange chance. 

1 HERE lived once in Rimini a wealthy young 
man of noble birth named Pandolfo del Nero, 
who was so passionately in love with a lady of 
that city that he could hardly remain a single hour 
without seeing her. Her name was Francesca, 
and she was the wife of a rich gentleman some- 
what older in years than she altogether desired. 
Pandolfo never ceased to importune her with 
letters and messages, until at last she began to 
listen to him, and, as the good-looking young 
man pleased her much, it was not long before 
she contrived, with her nurse's aid, to meet him. 
If he loved her before, Pandolfo now burned 
hotly for his darling Francesca, while she, in 
like fashion, found life impossible without him, 
and heaped a thousand curses upon the hour 
which had given her as bride to so decrepit a 



man. Loving each other thus in this unbridled way, 
Pandolfo often ran the risk of death in order to 
see his mistress, while she never missed a chance 
of meeting him, caring naught about her own life, 
if only she could manage to be with her lover. 

For nearly two years they went on in this way, 
meeting each other whenever they could, while 
in heat and intensity their passion seemed ever 
to increase. Then all at once Francesca fell 
dangerously sick of a distressing flux, which in 
a short time became so severe that the doctors 
gave out that she could not live long, but that 
any day, while in the act of speaking, she might 

Her poor old husband, who loved her deeply, 
left nothing undone which might cure her, and 
spared no expense to bring thither the most 
famous doctors from Bologna. But all proved 
in vain, as Francesca grew daily worse, her 
life melting away like snow before the sun. 
When he heard what mortal danger threatened 
his lady-love, Pandolfo was half dead of grief, 
knowing not which way to turn, being convinced 
that, if she died, he would detest life. So, by 
the maid who knew of their love, he contrived 


to send a message of comfort to his mistress, 
beseeching her for his sake to take heart and 
endeavour to regain her health. Such words of 
greeting and solace brought to the lady marvel- 
lous delight, for she loved Pandolfo more than 
her very life; and death, as it seemed to her, 
would not be so distasteful if only she could 
stay with him and hear his voice. In proportion 
as her vital forces waned, great jealousy possessed 
her as she thought that when she was gone some 
other lady might take her pleasure of Pandolfo; 
indeed, this tormented her far more than the actual 
thought of death. Then she went on imagining 
how chance might let them both die together and 
be buried in company. Haunted by this idea, she 
determined to speak to Pandolfo before she died, 
in the hope that there should happen what really 
did happen. 

In her chamber there was a chest large enough 
to hold a man, which had been put there in 
order to hide her lover in case they should be 
surprised. Pandolfo, in fact, had frequently con- 
cealed himself in it for four or five hours at a 
time. The lid of it, when once shut, could not 
be raised without using a key, and in it there 


were holes to admit air. Francesca kept her 
most precious things in this chest. After much 
thought, she sent a message to Pandolfo, begging 
him to visit her on the following night. To the 
youth such a proposal was infinitely delightful, 
and, at the hour fixed, he went to the house, 
being admitted by the nurse, who soon led him 
to the lady's chamber. Since Francesca's illness 
her husband used to sleep on the ground floor, 
and at times in the night would come or send 
to see how his wife was, taking care that she 
had all she needed. Being desirous to speak 
at length and at her leisure with Pandolfo, before 
he came, she tried to appear somewhat better, 
saying that she would have no other waiting- 
woman with her that night but the nurse ; so 
they two remained together alone. 

When, soon afterwards, Pandolfo came in, full 
many were the tears they shed before the lovers 
could utter a word. At length, amid kisses and 
sobs, the lady, sighing deeply, said, "Pandolfo, 
dear heart of mine, and the goal of my every 
desire, tell me truly, shall you not be grieved at 
my death ? Shall you not regret that no longer 
you may return to your Francesca ? " 


"What is this you say?" rejoined her lover, 
weeping. "Soul of me, and my one and only 
joy, do you, then, doubt my love? If with my 
life or with a thousand other lives I could save 
yours, be sure that I would stake them all, so 
that yours were but won. And if, though God 
forbid, if it chance that you die of this malady, 
indeed I know not what I shall do, for at the 
mere thought of it I feel as if I must lose my 
life also. Yet be comforted and of good cheer, 
for to such a pass you are not yet come, and 
for this malady some cure may yet be found. 
You are young, and youth survives the utmost 
perils of sickness; look forward then to recovery, 
and be of good heart." 

"Pandolfo, dearest," replied the lady, "my life 
is gone, and what little remains to me is so feeble 
that it seems even as naught. Insensibly I feel 
my vital forces ebbing away little by little — dis- 
persed like mist before the breeze. God knows 
that, except for you, it grieves me not to die ; 
but at the thought of leaving you here without 
me, and that, in time, some other woman shall 
possess you, such bitter anguish fills me, that, 
compared therewith, death has for me no pain. 


Could I but find a way for us both to die at 
the same moment, so that, united in life by love, 
in death we might be buried together in the 
same grave ! Were I but sure of this, I should 
die content." 

Whereupon Pandolfo, weeping, besought her 
to put aside such thoughts, for that she would 
recover, and there would be ample time for them 
to live a merry life together. In this way he 
endeavoured to comfort her to the best of his 

As thus with tears and sighs the lovers spoke 
of these and other matters, the husband rose 
shortly after midnight to visit his sick wife, as 
the doctors had told him that she was gradually 

The nurse heard him calling to the servants 
for lights to show him upstairs, and she at once 
told the lovers, and went to meet her master so 
that she might keep him talking, and so give 
Pandolfo time to get out of the house in the 
usual way. The door she had left open, for 
which her mistress had had keys made like those 
belonging to the master of the house. At this 
news Pandolfo was for escaping there and then, 


but the lady, who saw that all was happening 
as she had planned it, begged him to hide in 
the chest, so that when the husband had gone 
away again they might continue their talk. 
Being only too anxious to talk yet awhile 
with his love, Pandolfo jumped into the chest, 
which closed of itself as soon as the lid was 
down. Immediately afterwards, the husband came 
up, having already learnt from the maid that 
her mistress had been sleeping peacefully. On 
entering the room, he went straight to the bed 
and asked his wife how she felt. She replied 
that, although she had rested somewhat, she still 
thought that she would not live much longer, for 
she felt that she was gradually sinking. Her 
husband then comforted her, beseeching her to 
be of good heart, and said that her having rested 
was an excellent sign. So, with many words, 
he tried to cheer her as best he could. 

The nurse meanwhile, who believed that Pan- 
dolfo had got away, went to lock the house-door, 
and, on coming back to the sick-chamber, she 
was told by her mistress to wait without. Then 
Francesca said to her husband : " Dear husband 
mine, whom I have loved without limit, as you 


see, I have now come to the end of my life, a 
pass which we all sooner or later must reach, 
as none are privileged by God to remain per- 
petually in life. During the few years of our 
companionship, I have always thought that you 
loved me fervently, and that you have ever tried 
to please me, seeing that all I wanted from you 
has been freely granted, nor was aught that I 
asked denied to me. And in this my last hour 
I am fain to think that you will do likewise. 
For this very reason I am more bold to ask a 
favour of you, and tenderly beseech you to grant 
it, claiming your word as a solemn pledge that 
you will do this. What say you ? " 

" My dearest wife," answered the husband, 
" pray put these fancies about dying out of your 
head, and be of good cheer, for I hope that you 
may recover. Nevertheless I will always pledge 
you my word of honour that you shall ask 
nothing of me within my power but I will do 
it; so ask freely anything which you think I can 
perform; nor shall it be a vain request, for I 
am fain to content you, even though it were 
done with my very blood." 

"Then I beg you," said she, "that, when I am 


dead (which will soon be), you cause that chest 
yonder to be placed in the tomb with me where 
I am buried. In it are baubles and trinkets 
which have no value; in fact, they are hardly 
worth ten florins. The chest is locked, and it 
only needs to be carried to the grave with me. 
If you will grant me this favour, I shall die per- 
fectly content." 

The husband, who dearly loved his wife, swore 
to please her in this as in any other thing which 
he could possibly do, never imagining for an 
instant that the chest held aught but some of her 
clothes and sundry women's trinkets that perhaps 
she did not wish to have seen. 

What shall we say of poor Pandolfo, who, shut 
fast within the chest, had heard everything ? 
How true is that saying: "Happy he who loves 
a discreet woman, and luckless indeed is he who 
chances to fall in with a mistress both foolish 
and ill-bred ! " Here was the hapless lover be- 
tween anvil and hammer; for, if he remained 
silent, he saw himself buried alive, with never 
a hope of rescue, while, if he discovered himself, 
he would certainly be torn limb from limb, as he 
belonged to a party hostile to that of the lady's 


husband. Moreover, there was the added injury 
of having enrolled messire as a citizen of Cuck- 
oldstown. A thousand thoughts passed through 
his head, but he could imagine no possible means 
of escape. Finally, being caught like a rat in 
a trap, he resolved to choose the lesser evil and 
die patiently where he was, in the chest. I have 
often thought myself, gentlemen, over this predica- 
ment of his, and am persuaded that Francesca, 
being in this melancholy state, cared little if her 
lover were suffocated in the chest or killed by 
his enemies, so long as she got her wish, and 
could die happy in the knowledge that Pandolfo 
did not live on after her. God guard us all from 
such crazy females ! 

Now, when the lady had got her husband's 
solemn promise, which assured her that Pandolfo 
would be buried with her, she determined to live 
no longer, and, endeavouring to repress what little 
vitality remained to her, she sought to hold her 
breath as long as possible; and soon afterwards, 
making no answer to what her husband said to 
her, she expired. Sorely did he bemourn her 
death, with great lamenting, and ordered her 
burial to take place on the following evening. 


When day came, kinsfolk and friends arrived to 
condole with the husband upon the loss of his 
wife, and to help in making arrangements for the 
funeral. Being resolved to carry out Francesca's 
wish with regard to the chest, he told some of 
his relatives about the matter. They one and 
all thought that he should have the chest opened, 
as something might be found inside which it 
would be wrong to bury. But he, being anxious 
to keep the word pledged to his dead wife, 
would on no account let the box be opened. 

When evening came, the body was lifted up 
and the chest carried out after it, amid the in- 
tense astonishment of the whole city. When 
Pandolfo felt himself being lifted up, and heard 
them chanting the Requiem ceternam, there is 
little need to ask what feelings were his. More 
than once he very nearly screamed out and re- 
vealed himself, thus abandoning his resolve to die 
patiently. But being convinced that the mourners 
one and all would cut him into a thousand 
shreds, love for his dead lady overcame him, 
and he resolved to accept his fate in silence for 
her sake, that so in death he might not de- 
fame her whom, living, he had so dearly loved. 


Therefore, he let himself be borne along to the 
venerable church of San Cataldo, which belongs 
to the Preaching Friars, and, as they chanted 
the burial service over the body, the chest was 
placed in a corner of the vault, which was some- 
what spacious. Then the coffin was laid there 
also. As night had come and it was very dark, 
they did not stay to close the entrance of the 
tomb with cement, but only placed the top-stone 
thereon, intending to fasten all properly on the 

"When poor Pandolfo felt himself buried alive, 
he groped about in the chest until he found 
various things wrapped up in linen cloths, yet 
he troubled not to look what they were, being 
merely desirous to meet his death as painlessly 
as might be. As we have said, there were certain 
holes in the lid of the chest, yet, though a little 
air entered the vault, as it was badly closed, he 
felt his breathing grow more and more difficult, 
while there was a noisome stench from all the 
damp round about. Then God, who had more 
pity for Pandolfo than ever he had had for him- 
self, appointed a way of rescue after this manner. 
The dead lady's nephew had heard from the 


nurse that all her precious jewels and ornaments 
were to be buried with her, and, when the 
funeral was over, he went to two of his com- 
rades and told them what he meant to do, when 
they readily offered to help him. Accordingly, 
some little time before the friars rose for matins, 
the young men found a way of getting into the 
convent, and thence into the church. As the 
tombstone had not yet been properly fastened, 
they easily removed this. Pandolfo, half stifled, 
heard their noise and was much cheered, for he 
guessed what would happen. 

As soon as the stone was moved, the nephew 
and one of his companions entered the vault, 
and with tools that they had brought broke 
open the chest. Hardly did he feel the lock 
broken than Pandolfo leapt up in a great fury, 
trembling fearfully, and uttering strange cries, so 
that the two young men rushed out of the vault 
in a trice, and fled as fast as their legs would 
carry them, following their comrade, who, waiting 
outside, had already taken to his heels through 
sheer fright. You may well think how glad 
Pandolfo was at the rare piece of luck that had 
set him free. Coming out of the sepulchre, he 


took a torch like those that they light when the 
priest upraises the Body of Christ, and, going 
back, was fain to look once more upon the face 
of his dead lady. Then, searching the chest, he 
found chains and rings of gold that were hers, 
besides a goodly sum of money. All this he took, 
and after shutting the chest went out of the 
tomb, placing the stone at its mouth as before, 
with the help of an iron bar lying there. Then 
he made his way out of the church and the con- 
vent, through the friars' garden, and got back to 
his own home, where he remained many days 
without letting any one see him, for, as it seemed 
to him, he was still shut up in the tomb. It is 
my firm belief that if he ever fell in love again 
with any woman, he was wise enough not to let 
himself run such risks, for indeed they are not 
of the sort to be frequently encountered; and all 
should beware of loving women who hold their 
own ungoverned appetites more dear than their 
gallants' lives. 

OF the Judge of Lucca's intrigue with a 
lady, and how he causes her husland to 
le put in prison; together with sundry 

AT the time when Pietro Gambacorta governed 
Pisa there lived a youth of noble birth named 
Buonaccorsio Gualando. He had neither father 
nor mother, and, full of a passion far beyond his 
years, he fell deeply in love with Beatrice the 
daughter of Neri Malletti, who, though but a little 
girl, was equally enamoured of him. When Buon- 
accorsio came back from school, he used to try 
and see Beatrice and stay with her if possible, yet, 
being both mere children, their relatives thought 
nothing of such intimacy, as the lad was about 
twelve, and the girl barely ten years old. Buon- 
accorsio's kinsfolk, under whose guardianship he 
was, saw that he made good progress in grammar 

and was most intelligent, so they decided to send 
vol. i. 2 " R 


him to Siena, then famous as a centre for the 
study of civil law. 

Accordingly they told him of their decision, 
pointing out that, though he belonged to an ancient 
and noble family which was among the first in 
Pisa, he had no great fortune, so that he must 
use his talents to support his rank. The boy saw 
that what they said was true, and he expressed 
himself ready to do what they might appoint. Yet 
when he thought that he would have to part from 
Beatrice he felt a strange torment at his heart, 
and he went to tell her of what his guardians 
purposed to do, and of the sore grief that was 
his. Beatrice wept bitterly at the news, the lad 
joining her in such lamentation ; and so with 
childish embraces each drank the other's scalding 
tears. They made vows of eternal love, and all 
the time that Buonaccorsio stayed in Pisa they 
managed to be together. The youth had a servant, 
to whom (Beatrice knowing of it) he gave secret 
instructions to forward his letters to her and 
despatch hers to him, at Siena. The time for de- 
parture now came, and Buonaccorsio went to Siena, 
where his guardians kept him for three years before 
he returned to Pisa. His Beatrice remained ever 


present in his memory, and he often wrote to her, 
as she to him, for love taught her to use the 
pen right well. Indeed, love waxed ever greater 
in both as they grew older, and so in this inter- 
change of letters three years passed. When at 
vacation time the lad came home, he found that 
his Beatrice had become far more beautiful than 
before; in fact she was passing fair, having a 
sweet gentleness and charm that made her without 
an equal in all Pisa. Buonaccorsio saw her at a 
window, and so bewitching was her loveliness 
that it completely astounded him. As they had 
now both grown up, they were no longer allowed 
to be such intimate companions as of yore, and 
this caused the lovers bitter grief of heart. Yet 
Love, that never leaves his pursuivants without 
some sort of help, opened their eyes and showed 
them where they might talk together in a lonely 
pathway at the back of Beatrice's house, out of 
a window at no great distance from the ground. 
This window lighted a place where firewood and 
other things for the house were kept, and there 
were also two great vats there for making wine. 
Now and again Beatrice used to come here and 
enjoy a talk at her ease with Buonaccorsio. The 


love that had begun for them when boy and girl 
now burned in another fashion at their hearts; 
so passionate indeed was this attachment that 
they were fain to taste those deeper amorous joys 
which lovers ever ardently seek; yet for such 
pleasure opportunity did not serve. 

Love thus ever grew with the advancing years, 
and when the vacations were ended Buonaccorsio 
returned to Siena, remaining there for another 
three years before coming back to Pisa. Shortly 
before his arrival Neri Malletti gave his daughter 
in marriage to a citizen of Lucca, one Fridiano 
Z. Hearing this, Buonaccorsio fell into such a 
melancholy state that in his very despair he 
thought of becoming a Franciscan friar; indeed 
he had already spoken of this to the Father 
Superior at Siena, and had fixed a time for don- 
ning the monkish dress, when he received a letter 
from Beatrice. In it she said that being forced 
into marriage by her father she could not say no, 
but that she loved her Buonaccorsio more than 
ever, and, having now greater freedom than formerly, 
she would contrive ways and means to meet him 
if he could but manage to come to Lucca. She 
besought him the more to do this, as in those 


first few days of marriage she had, as she 
thought, already discovered that her husband was 
a dullard. 

The young fellow was in a measure cheered 
by this letter, and he read and re-read it again 
and again. He repented him of his wish to turn 
friar, and after hard study passed his final exa- 
minations with high honours, obtaining the degree 
of Doctor of Civil Law. He then came to Pisa, 
where he won further distinctions, and, not being 
able to put the beautiful Beatrice out of his 
thoughts, he determined to do his utmost to ob- 
tain the appointment of Criminal Judge at Lucca, a 
post of much authority and esteem. Accordingly, 
with the influence of kinsfolk and friends he was 
at last elected judge for the period of two years, 
which to Beatrice as to himself proved a source 
of infinite content. The election being over, he 
got all things necessary for him in making an 
honourable appearance, and in the month of January 
he went to Lucca, where with due pomp he took 
possession of his office, administering justice in 
such a way that he soon gained the favour of 
the whole city. Here at Lucca he was able to 
see Beatrice almost every day, and being both of 


them desirous to renew their intimacy, the lady, 
by bribing two of her maids, found a way to make 
an assignation with her lover when Fridiano, the 
husband, was away in the country ; and it was 
then that their long and fervent love had its re- 
ward. If before affectionate, my lord the judge 
fell now head over ears in love, for he found 
Beatrice far more delightful and charming than 
he had at first believed, while her attachment to 
him increased in a like degree, so that the little 
love she had ever felt for her husband now gave 
place to absolute repugnance. 

Now, as in this intrigue they were somewhat 
indiscreet, Fridiano became very jealous of Bea- 
trice's admirer. He noticed that he was an ex- 
tremely good-looking young man, and that he 
passed along the street every day. It also seemed 
to him that Beatrice, when she saw the young 
judge, grew unwontedly gay and met him with 
a merry smile, so that Fridiano often came to 
harsh words with his wife about this, telling her 
that she was carrying on a love-intrigue with 
Buonaccorsio, and that by the Body of Christ he 
would soon show her what he meant to do. 
Knowing just what he was worth, the lady made 


him a sharp answer, reproaching him for such 
accusations, which were utterly false, as my lord 
the judge came there to pay court to a widow, 
their neighbour, of whom he was enamoured. 
The matter, however, must not be spoken of, to 
save the lady's good name from injury. Beatrice 
also said that, if her husband had such a bad 
opinion of her, he might watch her closely to see 
if she did wrong, in which case he could do with 
her just what he liked. Albeit not the most 
astute of men, Fridiano was deeply in love with 
his wife, and thought her so beautiful and fas- 
cinating that he was jealous of the very flies that 
flew about her in the air. So to all her excuses 
he turned a deaf ear; and, with his mind ever 
bent upon righting matters, he at last got it into 
his head that his wife would drug his food or 
drink in order to send him into a sound sleep 
one night, when she would get up and admit 
her gallant. How to prevent this was his one 
thought; for then, as it seemed to him, all would 
come right. 

He accordingly summoned one of the serving- 
wenches and said to her, "Look you, Giovanna, 
if you will be faithful to me and keep my counsel, 


you shall see what I will do for you in return. 
I have grave doubts about my wife and the judge, 
and I fear that one night with some devil's brew 
of hers she will send me off to sleep, and then 
will get up and open the door to her lover. So 
that I want you to prepare my food and draw 
my wine; and henceforth I will take nothing 
except from your hand. But see to it that you 
do not play me false." 

Giovanna knew of her mistress's intrigue, and, 
when she heard this preposterous talk, replied, 
"Sir, I am in duty bound to do that which you 
command ; and I will fail you nothing in this thing. 
Myself I do not believe madam to be one of that 
sort, or I should have noticed something of it ere 
this. But if she be, this precaution of yours as 
to food and drink is useless, for the Pisan ladies 
(so I heard when I was in service with the Lan- 
franchi family) are most of them well versed in 
spells and incantations. In fact I was told that 
if one of them only touch a sleeping person with 
her hand, and say certain words learnt on Christ- 
mas Eve, he will sleep for as many hours as the 
times she repeats such words." 

Hearing this, Fridiano was like one dead, and 


it seemed to him that he already slept, spell- 
bound by the enchantments wrought by his wife. 
So he cried out, "Alack! what is this that 
I hear?" "Sir," answered the maid, "I have 
already told you that I do not think that madam 
is one of those who work spells; however, the 
proverb says, Good guard prevents ill chance. If 
indeed there be aught in this thing, I believe the 
judge comes in, not by the door but over the 
garden wall, and, climbing on to where the logs 
are piled, he thus gets up to your chamber." 

Fridiano, poor fool, believed the sly girl's tale, 
and, after consulting further with her, he deter- 
mined to keep watch at night-time in the garden. 
Giovanna told everything to her mistress, who, on 
hearing of her husband's mad idea, had duplicate 
door-keys made, and informed her lover of all 
that had occurred. And if before she had eyed 
him with favour, she now did far more to show 
her pleasure at his presence, so that the wretched 
husband, believing every word that Giovanna had 
said, grew madly jealous; and, being afraid to 
sleep beside his wife lest she should bewitch him, 
he resolved to keep a sharp look-out in the 
garden. While thus o' nights he numbered the 


stars, the lady for safety's sake had the garden- 
door closed, so that he could not come back with- 
out her knowledge. Then, admitting the judge by 
another entrance, with him she achieved the con- 
junction of the planets. And to give better colour 
to the thing, while the judge was with his mis- 
tress, one of his serving-men walked round about 
the outside of the garden, whistling, spitting, and 
doing things of that sort, while now and again 
making an attempt to get over the wall, which 
was rather low. In this way the wretched hus- 
band was all night long tortured by the pangs 
of jealousy, being firmly persuaded that the mid- 
night visitant was the judge, who had come to 
see his wife. But, as he did not get over the 
wall, Fridiano feared that the judge knew that 
he was watching there, in the garden, and this 
perplexed him greatly. So soon as the gallant 
quitted his mistress, which was an hour or two 
before dawn, she unbarred the garden-door; but 
her jealous husband did not give up watching 
until well past that time. 

Thus the intrigue lasted for a long while, and, 
Fridiano getting no sleep save occasionally a little 
in the day-time or in the orchard at night, he 


grew thin and haggard, looking like one bewitched. 
And in truth, who that should spend all his nights 
moon-gazing would not become thus? 

At last the judge, to remove suspicion from the 
lady and himself, devised with her a magnificent 
plot, which succeeded in every way just as he had 
thought it out. Among his serving-folk he had 
a young Pisan, a big fellow of fine proportions, 
whose nickname was Ferraguto, and who at the 
merest hint from the judge would have entered 
upon any dangerous undertaking. He had certain 
sergeants of the watch under him, those whose 
duty it is to patrol the city at night and see that 
none go abroad armed or without a light. To him 
the judge said, " Ferraguto, as you know, I love 
Fridiano's wife, and she loves me, but I cannot 
visit her, as I desire to do, because of the strict 
watch which her husband keeps every night. As 
it would be very easy for me to get in through the 
garden, he stays there, armed, all night long, so 
that I cannot approach the wall but he lies in wait 
on the other side with pike in hand. Yet, armed 
though he be, I am sure he can do you no hurt, for 
he is such a weakling that he could hardly spit a 
soft curd cheese. I want you to tell your fellows 


that you have been informed about an outlaw who 
gets through the garden at night-time, and whom 
you purpose to arrest. You will first have to get 
over the wall and drop down into the garden, when 
doubtless he will attack you; but he can do you 
little injury. Give instructions to your men to 
follow you, and I will soon come thither with the 
rest of the watch, when we will take him, and find 
a cure, as I think, for his jealousy." "Sir," quoth 
Ferraguto, " this is but a little matter that you bid 
me do. Leave all to me, and never trouble about 
trifles; enough if you tell me the time that you 
intend to be on the spot yourself." 

Accordingly, having fixed the hour, while letting 
the lady know all, that day my lord the judge passed 
twice in front of her house, making certain signs to 
her with his eyes and his hands, which convinced 
Fridiano, who was on the watch, that the young 
man intended to visit Beatrice that night. Unable 
to brook such annoyance any longer, nor to suffer 
the judge thus insolently to make signals to his 
wife, Fridiano began to storm and rave at her, 
exclaiming in the presence of the servants, "Wife, 
wife, you are carrying matters to such a pitch that, 
by the Blessed Body of Santa Maria da Montenero, 


I will cut your throat, and if this judge of yours 
comes hanging about here to-night I'll play him 
such a trick as he will remember for the rest of 
his life. You want him as your lover, and probably 
think that I am going to allow this. But wait 
and see. If you two are Pisans, I am Lucchese. 
Only let me catch you at one of the windows 
that overlook the street, and you shall see what 
I'll do." 

The crafty wife, who had all too well summed up 
her husband and knew the extent of his doughty 
deeds, at once answered angrily, "What the devil 
is this, husband, that you say? What thoughtless 
talk is this of yours ? What have you ever seen in 
me to fill your head with such nonsensical ideas ? 
Though neither is to blame, you make yourself 
detestable, and me wretched, while there is nothing 
whatever amiss. You must be stark, staring mad. 
Don't you know that the judge of this city may 
go about all the streets at any hour of the day 
or the night, and in his official capacity enter 
any house he chooses ? Why, you yourself have 
told me that this same office of judge is one 
greatly feared and respected. So have a care what 
you say." 


Then Fridiano, beside himself with rage, cried 
out, "See, see, this Pisan traitress here has come 
to Lucca to order me about. Would I had been 
laid up with the quartan ague ere ever I thought 
of making a woman from Pisa my wife ! For all, 
all of them, men and women, are traitors. May 
fire from heaven consume you, vile woman that 
you are!" 

Beatrice, who cared little for her husband's 
wrath, in order to make him more furious, replied, 
"By the Cross of Christ, you don't lack modesty 
when you dare to compare yourself with the 
Pisans ! Perhaps you don't know what Pisans 
have done by sea and land in comparison with 
Lucchese. Go to, my father was over blind when 
he chose you as a son-in-law. Cursed be the 
hour that ever I took you for my husband. You 
are more suspicious than a mule, and the proverb 
says truly that the Lucchese are afraid of the very 
flies in the air. For God's sake mind what you 
are about, and never dare to lay your hands on 
me, as that I will never bear, but with these 
fingers I'll scratch your eyes out. I have done 
nothing to warrant such threats from you. Beat 
your dogs if you like, but leave me alone." Thus 


they wrangled, and many high words followed, 
but for one that Fridiano said his wife returned 
him a score. 

When night came, the husband took his supper 
before the others, and, having armed himself, went 
to the garden, where he kept on the look-out, 
intending to play the judge a sorry trick if he 
should try to climb over the wall. 

The judge meanwhile armed his men, telling 
them that he was going to capture an outlaw of 
whose whereabouts spies had informed him. Thus 
he sent on Ferraguto in advance with his sergeants, 
and himself came after with the rest, waiting about 
in the neighbourhood of Fridiano's house until the 
appointed hour. When this struck, Ferraguto, after 
instructing his men, put the ladder against the 
wall and was about to climb over it, when he felt 
himself wounded, but not deeply, in the thigh. 
So, leaping down, he cried out in a loud voice, 
"Traitor, you are dead." Ferraguto carried a big 
partisan, with which he began to belabour Fridiano 
in fine style, though always with the flat side of 
the steel. The luckless Fridiano, firmly believing 
it was Buonaccorsio, thrust blindly at his opponent 
with his pike, but Ferraguto easily parried his 


strokes, and, as the judge had now come up and 
with the rest had scaled the wall, he cried out, 
" Come on ! come on ! we've got the outlaw ! " 

Having broken open the garden-door, the ser- 
geants had already seized Fridiano, when my lord 
judge came up and asked where the outlaw was. 
" Here he is," said the sergeants, never noticing 
that their prisoner was Fridiano. "Good," replied 
the judge; "then let us go to the court." Ferra- 
guto, who knew how matters were, now pretended 
to fall down in a faint, when one of his men called 
out, " Alack ! Ferraguto is dead ! " At this the 
judge turned back, and, seeing blood on the fellow's 
thigh, said, "The wretch of an outlaw has killed 
Ferraguto, but he shall pay twofold for this." 
Then said Fridiano, " I am no outlaw, but Fridiano 
Z., a citizen of this place." "What?" cried the 
judge, "you are Fridiano Z. ? And what, pray, 
were you doing armed at this hour? To it, my 
men! four of you take Ferraguto home and get 
the doctor; and you others see that Fridiano does 
not escape. We must search the house, and per- 
haps we shall find the outlaw there." 

So the judge with some of his men entered 
the house, where, roused by the noise, all the in- 


mates had risen, and, calling for lights, he made a 
careful search everywhere. Finally he called the 
lady to him, and, harshly threatening her, he said, 
" Madam, tell me the truth : where is the outlaw 
who got in here to-night?" 

" Sir," she answered, weeping bitterly, " for many 
days past no one has lodged here in our house. 
I do not know what you may mean by outlaws." 

" Enough," quoth he ; " you shall soon know what 
I mean ; and I'll torture you till you do tell the 
truth. In verity, they were right who informed 
me some time back that you were a bad woman, 
who never spoke the truth." 

" Sir," she replied, " I am like yourself a Pisan, 
and an honest woman." 

"I am sorry that you are a Pisan," said the 
judge, " but I must do my duty, be it who it may 
that falls into my hands." Then he gave orders 
for Fridiano and his wife to be brought to the 
court-house with two of their women and a serving 
man. The lady made loud lamentations, and pre- 
tended to resist stoutly, but, unable to do more, 
she had eventually to yield. 

When he saw all that had happened, poor 

Fridiano said within himself, "Truly, I made a 
vol. 1. s 


great mistake to suppose that the judge was in 
love with my wife : these are not the sort of tricks 
that lovers play." Then they shut him up with 
his thoughts in a dungeon that reptiles would have 
refused as their abode. His servant was put else- 
where, while the wife with her women was lodged 
in a comfortable chamber, where my lord judge 
examined her at his leisure. Fridiano was sorely 
frightened, doubting not but that he would get 
severe punishment for wounding a sergeant of the 
court, and for carrying arms at that hour. 

On asking the prison warders what had become 
of his wife, one who knew him said, " I heard 
messire say that this morning he meant to put 
her to the rope-torture, in order to make her con- 
fess where you hid the outlaw who came to your 
house yesterday evening. She is bound to have 
a bad time of it, for this judge is very severe; 
and then there is Ferraguto, whom you wounded 
so dangerously, which will give you enough to do." 
Fridiano was overwhelmed with fear when he 
heard all this, and he was unspeakably grieved at 
having thus heedlessly made an enemy of the judge. 
Being convinced that his wife would really be put 
to the torture, his heart was like to break, the 


judge meanwhile laughing merrily with Beatrice at 
all that her husband had said about him. 

Next morning, when the tale of Fridiano's arrest 
got about the city, it gave rise to much talk ; and 
if any suspicion had ever existed of the judge's 
intrigue with Beatrice, this event entirely extin- 
guished it. Many of Fridiano's kinsfolk and friends 
came to ask the reason for his imprisonment, when 
the judge told them that, hearing that an outlaw 
was hiding in Fridiano's house, he had gone thither 
with his sergeants to seize him, and that Fridiano 
had not only helped the villain to escape, but, 
pike in hand, had wounded one of the police- 
officers. At this they were sorely amazed, and 
knew not what to answer. 

Shortly before dinner the judge sent for Fridiano 
and asked him if he knew why thus he was im- 
prisoned. The poor wretch answered, " For having 
wounded an officer of the court." "Well," said the 
judge, "what were you about at that hour in the 
garden, wearing casque and corselet, and carrying 
a pike and a sword ? " Unable to find an answer, 
Fridiano racked his brains in vain for a fitting 
excuse. " Look you here," said his lordship, " the 
rope-torture shall be my last resource to make you 


confess, for I intend to examine your wife and her 
servants first, and then I mean to get the truth 
from you, which willy nilly you will have to tell 
me. Get you gone and think well over the matter, 
nor give me reason to treat you with cruelty and 
put you to the torture." 

Then, having sent Fridiano back to prison, the 
judge questioned the serving-man, who could only 
say what he had heard Fridiano tell his wife, 
when he accused her of a love intrigue, and aver 
that for nights past he had armed himself and 
gone out into the garden. At this confession, 
the judge caused his secretary to write down 
especially the insulting words which Fridiano had 
spoken of himself, including his threat to kill him. 
Then Beatrice was brought, who confirmed her 
servant's statements, adding, moreover, that she 
had often heard her husband say that he had 
determined to kill the judge, while her two maids 
gave evidence as to the last wrangle between 
Fridiano and his wife, all which statements were 
reduced to writing. Then, after dinner, the judge 
went with Beatrice and two trusty servants to the 
torture-chamber, first pulling Fridiano, manacled, 
into a room adjoining this, where he could easily 


hear all that was said. Determined to cure him 
of his jealousy, and destroy the least suspicion 
which Fridiano might have of him, the judge 
said to Beatrice in a loud voice, "Come, come, 
no more words about it! bind this woman to the 
rope, and haul her up. I'll soon make her con- 
fess." Whereupon Beatrice (who knew her part) 
flung herself, screaming, upon the ground, and 
begged for mercy. "Sir," she cried, "I know 
nothing else but what I have already told you; 
you wrong me, indeed you do ! Oh, mercy, mercy 
me ! For God's sake, don't bind me so tightly ! " 

The judge pretended not to hear her cries, and 
said, " Now then, no more delay ; swing her up ! " 
The men then made a noise with the rope, and 
she, withdrawing somewhat, shrieked aloud for 
mercy, while the judge harshly scolded her, say- 
ing, "Beatrice, tell me truly; do you know any- 
thing of the murder which your husband had 
resolved to commit ? What do you say ? Speak." 
Then, crying and sobbing, she uttered inarticulate 
sounds, as do those that are being cruelly tortured. 
Soon after, the judge called out : " 'Sblood ! but I 
will make you confess the truth. You won't speak, 
eh ? Ah ! but you shall, though. I'll drive the 


obstinacy out of you, see if I don't, Pisan or no 
Pisan. Haul her right up, men, and then let her 
go with a good jerk. I am determined that this 
stubborn wench shall either speak the truth or 
else leave her two arms hanging to the rope. 
Up with her!" Now a log of wood had been 
tied to the rope, which made it seem as if some 
one were being hauled up and down, while Madam 
Beatrice gave out dreadful shrieks such as do the 

The wretched Fridiano recognised his wife's 
voice as she shrieked and begged for mercy, and, 
being sure that it was really his dear Beatrice, 
he shouted like a madman. " Oh, mercy, mercy, 
my lord judge ! for God's sake don't torture my 
wife any more, as she, poor thing, is no whit to 
blame. Your labour is vain, since she cannot tell 
you what she does not know. Oh, my dearest 
wife, my best and truest wife, why am I not 
tortured instead of you ? " Hearing this, and see- 
ing that matters were going as he had planned, 
the judge pretended not to know that Fridiano 
had been transferred to that chamber, and turn- 
ing to his men he asked angrily, "Who put 
Fridiano in that room ? " " Sir," replied one, " you 


yourself committed him to the Barigello." * "I 
committed him ? " cried the judge. " They did not 
understand me. Why, I told them to bring him 
here, after this woman had been tortured, not 
before, as it is not fitting that he should hear 
what others confess when under torture. Now, 
take the woman back to prison and bring me the 
key of this room, as I intend to examine Fridiano." 

Laughing at the trick that they were playing 
her husband, Beatrice went back to her chamber, 
where she stayed with her women, and, when 
they had got the key, Fridiano was brought 
before the judge, who said, " If you overheard 
what your wife said, I cannot tell. She was in- 
clined to be obstinate, but this rope dragged some 
part of the truth from her; and I hope we shall 
get all of it when I have slung her up again. 
Your servants had more sense, and confessed all 
they knew, without obliging me to harm them. 
Now, it's your turn, so if you will tell the truth, 
speak out, or else this " (showing him the rope) 
"will help you to do so, whether you want to or 
not. I wish to know who the outlaw was that 
you had in your garden, and whom you allowed 
* Head of the officers of police. 


to escape when my sergeants were about to arrest 
him, while you wounded one of my men into the 
bargain. At such a time and place I'll be bound 
you were not going about armed merely to crack 
chestnuts. You will do well to speak the truth." 

Then Fridiano, terror-struck, replied, " Sir, I 
will tell you the whole truth; but for God's sake 
do not torture me! The fact is, I believed you 
to be in love with my wife, and certain signs, as 
I thought, led me to this conclusion. Moreover, 
I often quarrelled with her about this matter, 
using harsh threats towards her, and vowing that 
I would kill both her and you, should I find you 
in my house. As I suspected that you came in 
by the garden, I stayed there several nights, to 
watch. When your men arrived, I took the 
fellow who climbed over the wall for yourself, 
and, thinking to kill you, I fell upon him and 
wounded him, for it seemed to me lawful to de- 
fend myself in my own house and prevent any 
one from coming in against my will. I have 
nothing more to say, except that I have no truck 
with outlaws, nor do I know that any such people 
have ever entered my house." 

The judge caused all this to be written down 


by the notary, and said to him, "What think you 
to all this, Messer Paolino ? " " In truth, my lord," 
replied the notary, "he merits capital punishment, 
for he heard the sergeants call out, ' Have at the 
outlaw ! ' and yet he assaulted Ferraguto, an officer 
of justice. Nay, he even admits that he meant to 
wound your own person; and that is crimen lessee 
majestatis. Unless you exercise your clemency, I 
fear that he must lose his head, first for having 
hindered them from taking the outlaw, and secondly 
for having wounded your representative; as both 
these things be capital offences according to the 
laws of this magnificent city. Then, again, he con- 
fessed that he went about armed last night, with 
the deliberate intention of killing you ; that he lay 
in wait for you; and that, in attacking Ferraguto, 
he thought to attack you. Moreover, in these 
matters of homicide the lawyers say that the will 
counts for as much as the deed." 

Fridiano, nearly dead with fright, was then taken 
back to prison, where he remained in dire distress, 
being full of fear at the thought of losing his own 
life, and anxious about his wife, whom he believed 
to be maimed by the dreadful tortures she had 


A week passed, and then the judge, to put an 
end to the joke, caused Fridiano to be brought 
before him one evening, and said, in the presence 
of a Pisan notary (aware of the hoax, and whom 
Messer Malletti had sent to Lucca on his behalf), 
" I do not know what harm I have ever done 
you, Fridiano, since I came to this magnificent 
city, that you should have sought with such bitter- 
ness to bring about my death. Say, now, what 
hurt did you ever get at my hands that you should 
lie in wait for so many nights, armed, to kill me ? 
May I not in the discharge of my official duties 
go about the city with perfect freedom at all hours 
of the day or the night ? I have considered your 
case, and I purpose to administer such punish- 
ment as the municipal statutes require. Therefore 
to-morrow I will have you put to the torture by 
rope, so that the depositions may be taken accord- 
ing to law; and after this I will do with you as 
we do with assassins." 

Here the terrified prisoner flung himself, weep- 
ing, at the judge's feet, and said, " My lord, if 
you will but hear me patiently, I am certain that 
on hearing the truth you will not think me so 
guilty, while you will be assured of my dear wife's 


innocence, who in this matter is wholly free from 
blame, and, poor heart ! deserves to be set at 
liberty." Then the judge bade Fridiano rise, and 
said, " I will listen patiently to anything that you 
may have to relate." 

So Fridiano, rising, spoke as follows: "Sir, I 
have already told you that I suspected you of 
making love to my wife, for, ever since your entry 
into Lucca this last January, you always used to 
pass along in front of my house. As I knew that 
I had a very beautiful wife (a possession that 
brings with it not so much pleasure at night as 
vexation by day), I became dreadfully suspicious, 
for you were a comely young man, and a Pisan. 
Moreover, my suspicions increased when I noted 
certain things in you, as in her, which seemed 
to show that your love-intrigue had had its begin- 
ning elsewhere. Now, I know that I was mis- 
taken; yet when my wife said that you were 
paying court to a widow lady, our neighbour, I 
would not believe her, and thus things happened as 
I told you before. Yet it seems to me that my 
case deserves compassion, as in my own house I 
may carry arms, if I like. Again, if you wanted 
to enter my garden, you could have sent me word, 


instead of scaling the wall unawares. As I was 
in so suspicious a mood, what else could I do ? 
What would you yourself have done in my place ? 
With regard to my wife, as you have now tortured 
her thus cruelly, rest assured that you have ill- 
treated her without cause, as she is in no way 
to blame." Then the Pisan notary said, " Fridiano, 
your father-in-law sent me here to see if I could 
obtain your freedom and that of your wife with 
as little shame and hurt as is possible. I have 
seen the depositions, and the case is as bad as 
bad can be ; nevertheless I will speak with my lord 
judge, and do the best I can." Begging him to 
lose no time in the matter, Fridiano thanked the 
notary, and was then led back to prison. 

Then the judge conferred with Beatrice and the 
notary as to the best way to make an end of the 
matter; and they agreed that the notary should 
visit Fridiano in prison and get him to ask for 
permission to speak with his wife. This the notary 
did, and in due course he brought the lady to 
Fridiano's cell, with her eyes full of tears and her 
cheeks all ashen-white with sulphur fumes, so that 
she seemed as one come back from the grave. 
Seeing her thus pale and sad, the husband em- 


braced her, weeping, and asked her pardon a 
thousand times for having ever suspected her thus, 
promising that, if he came out of prison, she should 
be absolute mistress of the house, as he knew that 
she was a good and virtuous woman. Then she 
pretended that she was crippled and could not 
move hand or foot, at which he began to moan, 
saying, "My darling wife, my sweetheart, and 
my only solace, forgive, do forgive me ! I know 
that it is I who have caused you all this hurt. 
Oh, my dearest one, what is it ? How do you 
feel?" She still kept on shamming,* and in a 
faint voice declared that she was all bruised, and 
so weak that she could scarcely speak. Then the 
notary said, " Lose no time, Madam Beatrice, now 
that you are free to hold converse with your hus- 
band. It took me a good while before I could 
persuade the judge to grant you this interview. 
I will briefly give you my opinion of the case. 
What is past cannot be undone; even God Him- 
self, though He might have prevented its occur- 
rence, cannot do away with the event, now that it 
has happened. So, leaving the past, let us look 
to the future. I have read the depositions; and 
* Textually, "played the dead cat." 


yours, Beatrice, as well as those of the servants, 
do much to aggravate matters. Then there is your 
confession, Fridiano, which, if Ferraguto dies, will 
cost you your head. And, if he do not die (which 
God grant), your hand will be chopped off, your 
eye put out, and you will be banished for three 
years. Nevertheless, I hope that he may recover, 
so we must try and find a means of saving you 
from mutilation; and this could be done by your 
paying a fine of one thousand gold florins." 

When Fridiano heard this, he said, "The thing 
goes less ill than I at first imagined, for I felt 
certain that, having made such a confession with 
my own lips, it would have gone much harder 
with me. All the same, it is a sore thing for one 
like me to have to pay a thousand florins. I am 
not a merchant, nor do I follow any trade; and 
my income barely suffices to keep my house going 
from year to year. But it seems to me that you, 
Mr. Notary, who made our marriage -settlement, 
could draw up a deed dated three or four days 
after this document. I will make over to you, my 
wife, all my property inter vivos in writing, thus 
rendering myself unable to pay the fine ; and when 
I get out of prison, everything can be settled." 


Beatrice then begged the notary to do her this 
favour, and after a while he consented, agreeing 
moreover to use his influence with the judge to 
procure a mitigation of the sentence. 

After this, the lady and the notary went back 
to Buonaccorsio, who, on hearing of Fridiano's 
desire to make over all his property to his wife, 
said to her, "Madam, for you this is a stroke of 
luck, as in future you will be mistress of every- 
thing; and though your husband must live with 
you, he will never dare to bully you again. God 
be praised, things are going well. We shall have 
cured our good friend Fridiano of his excessive 
jealousy, while preventing any further disagreeable 
domestic scenes. Ferraguto is well again, for his 
hurt was not in a dangerous part, so that I think 
that it is now time we give Fridiano his liberty. 
But first of all, do you go back home betimes with 
your servants to-morrow, and after dinner I will 
pass sentence as follows, viz., that Fridiano Z., for 
having wounded a police officer and prevented the 
arrest of an outlaw, be obliged to pay the expenses 
for medicine and nursing incurred by the said 
police officer, and be moreover bound to serve as 
inspector of contrabands for the period of one year 


without pay. And if such sentence seem a light 
one, I would say that the entreaties of Signor 
Pietro Gambacorta and of my many kinsmen and 
friends led me to deal less severely with the case 
than I should otherwise have done. The penalty 
of serving as contraband inspector is for having 
resisted the officers of the court ; all the rest (my 
own private injuries) I freely forgive him, in con- 
sideration of the many letters of recommendation 
which I have had from relatives and friends." 

This being done, the good judge went, as was 
his wont, to spend the evening with his mistress, 
when they both waxed merry over the hoax played 
upon poor Fridiano, while Beatrice declared that 
the booby had got off all too cheap. 

And to show that he had planned matters with 
a view to their being together in the future, the 
judge said, "See, now, sweetheart mine [here he 
kissed her two hundred times], I have sentenced 
Fridiano to this year of contraband work because 
he will have to be all day in the saddle, and away 
in the country. When I choose, I shall keep him 
there for four or five days, and then we can be 
together at our pleasure, undisturbed. Or if he 
is in town, I shall often give orders for him to 


remain four or five hours in one street with the 
watch, not allowing him to move without my per- 
mission. In this way I can come and see you 
for an hour or two, so that all the while I am 
judge we can have the best of times together. 
What say you, O heart of my heart? Is not 
our matter well arranged like this ? " Beatrice, 
whose love for him was as great as his for her, 
replied by a thousand tender kisses, and said, 
"Sweet my love, you have indeed managed it 
exceedingly well, and right sure am I that you 
love me with all your heart, while I love you 
more than life itself." Thus with caresses and 
sweet talk the hours passed; and when morning 
tame, Beatrice, accompanied by her servants, went 

Fridiano meanwhile was again visited by the 
notary, who said to him, "You may thank God, 
Fridiano, that you happen to have a Pisan wife, 
as, but for her, I cannot see how you could have 
escaped losing a hand and an eye. But the letters 
which her father had written have served you in 
such stead, that this day you are to be set free 
and may go home when it likes you. You will 

be obliged to pay for Ferraguto's medicine and 
vol. 1. T 


his doctor's fee, a mere trifle; the other part of 
the penalty being that you must serve as un- 
salaried officer of contrabands for the term of one 
year. The appointment is a good one, and of 
profit to yourself, while you will often be able to 
help some of your friends. I say no more, except 
that for your father-in-law's sake I have spared 
no pains in this matter. 

"The judge was very wroth with you, and in- 
deed he seems to have had good cause for this, 
since you sought to take his life who had done 
you no harm. To him your wife counts no more 
than as a thing that he has never even seen, for 
his affections, as I happen to know, are centred 
elsewhere. You should thank him greatly, and 
be under a life-long obligation to him, for, had 
he chosen to harm you, as he might have done, 
woe were unto you and yours ! " 

At this good news Fridiano felt as if brought 
back from death to life, and countless were the 
thanks which he gave to the notary. After 
dinner, at the usual hour that the judge sat on 
the bench, when he had disposed of other cases, 
my lord gave final sentence in the matter of 
Fridiano Z. In order to lay the prisoner under 


deeper obligation to him, he would not let him 
pay a farthing for prison-fees or other expenses, 
nor even the trifling sum for Ferraguto's medicine, 
so that our good friend Fridiano on leaving prison 
fell on his knees before the judge and gave him 
a thousand thanks, assuring him that he and all 
his worldly possessions were henceforth at his 
lordship's service. To this the judge made a 
fitting answer, hinting that Fridiano was under 
the deepest obligation to his father-in-law, whose 
interception and the favour of Signor Gambacorta 
had really procured him his freedom. He also 
bade him get ready, as soon as possible, to under- 
take the post assigned to him, which he was to 
fill with all diligence. 

Fridiano then went home, and could not find 
words enough in praise of the judge, remarking 
among other things, "Wife, dearest, I should 
wish my lord judge to come here to our house 
whenever he likes without any sort of ceremony, 
as he is indeed a most worthy man, and we are 
all deeply indebted to him, for, had he liked, he 
could have done us great harm." His wife con- 
firmed all this, and, profiting by her husband's 
good humour, she desired the notary at once to 


draw up the deed of gift, which he was not 
slow to do, with all such clauses as the judge 
thought expedient to put in. 

In this way things went on so smoothly that 
all the while that Messer Buonaccorsio held the 
post of judge he was able to meet his mistress 
whenever he liked. So pleasant indeed was this 
intimacy to him that, when the two years were 
over, he managed to obtain the office of deputy- 
provost and afterwards that of provost, winning 
golden opinions from all, but most from Fridiano, 
who not only would credit no ill of his lordship, 
but, even had he seen him actually embracing Bea- 
trice, would never have believed his own eyes. 

SIMONE TURCHI, being at enmity with, 
Geronimo Deodati of Lucca, makes his 
peace with him; hut afterwards in un- 
heard-of fashion murders him; and is 
himself burnt alive at Antwerp. 

1 WOULD here tell you the pitiful story of a 
murder committed with the utmost barbarity con- 
ceivable. It happened in Flanders, the persons 
concerned being two merchants of the pleasant city 
of Lucca, who lived in Antwerp, a city famed for 
its wealth and gaiety — the market, so to speak, 
for all the Christians of Europe and elsewhere to 
meet. Life there is far freer and more intimate 
than in many other places. Among other familiar 
customs in Antwerp I would mention this, viz., 
that marriageable damsels before they grow up 
usually have young lovers about them, who call 
themselves their servants. That maiden is most 
thought of who has most " servants " ; and the 
young fellows may visit the girls all day un- 



hindered, at their houses, albeit the parents are 
there, paying court and chatting to them either 
in the morning or the evening. They often invite 
them also to dinner and supper, and, as they 
say, to banquetings in divers gardens, where the 
maidens, all unwatched, may walk about with 
their lovers at will, and where they spend whole 
days in eating and drinking, singing and dancing, 
in company with others that the lover may have 
invited to share their merriment. When evening 
comes the lover conducts the lady home and 
gives her back to her mother, who affectionately 
thanks the youth for the favour and honour shown 
to her daughter. Then, after respectfully kissing 
the maiden and her mother, he straightway goes 
off about his business. Kissing is permitted there 
to every one at any time and in any place. Such 
is the life that marriageable girls are wont to 
lead; but, being once wed, they are no longer 
allowed to have lovers — at least, openly. What 
the married women do, though, I have never been 
over - curious to find out, for these are things 
which they keep secret. 

Some fourteen or fifteen years ago, one of the 
first ladies of Antwerp was Madam Maria Verne, 


highly esteemed for her wealth no less than for 
her many noble qualities. This esteem, though 
now of mature age and still unmarried, she has 
never lost. At the time of which I speak, her 
beauty and agreeable manners caused her to have 
more gallants and devoted admirers than any other 
gentlewoman in Antwerp, for Flemish, Germans, 
French, English, Italians, and Spaniards, as well 
as youths of every nation that were brought to 
Antwerp on business, all called themselves her 
faithful servants, and daily paid court to her. In 
fact, as the continued place of resort for her 
admirers, all of whom came there to pay homage, 
her house seemed like the residence of some ruler 
or office-holder of high rank. One of her lovers 
was Filiberto, Prince of Orange, general of the 
Imperial forces in Italy, who died during the 
siege of Florence. For a while, indeed, it was 
generally thought that he would make her his 

At this time Simone Turchi lived in Antwerp, 
where he was the agent of the firm of Buonvisi, 
the famous merchants of Lucca. About fourteen 
years ago he made the acquaintance of Madam 
Maria Verné, paying such assiduous court to her 


that, leaving aside all other business, he never 
quitted her society, while the lady for her part 
appeared very fond of him. In one of her re- 
ception-rooms she was wont to place the portraits 
taken from life of all her gallants, and each one 
at the commencement of his courtship sent her 
his picture painted by the hand of some distin- 
guished painter. As each new portrait came, she 
hung it beside the others in her hall, and in her 
collection she had over forty such pictures. 

Four years after the arrival of Simone Turchi 
in Antwerp, Geronimo Deodati, another merchant 
from Lucca, came thither, and having a goodly 
sum of money he settled there for the purpose 
of trading. In a few days he joined the band of 
Madam Verne's admirers, and at her house be- 
came intimate with Turchi, who, as I have said, 
was none too zealous for the business interests 
of the Buonvisi. As Simone wanted money, he 
borrowed from Deodati, who repeatedly lent him 
sums amounting to nearly three thousand scudi. 

When the Buonvisi heard how badly Turchi 
was managing their affairs, they cancelled his 
appointment, no longer allowing him to act on 
their behalf. Being unable to trade on his own 


account, Turchi returned to Lucca, to enter the 
service of some merchant who did business with 
Antwerp. It so chanced that at this time Deodati 
also came back to Lucca, to settle accounts with 
his brothers, and from his papers they found that 
Simone Turchi owed nearly three thousand scudi. 
Accordingly the brothers pressed Deodati to pay 
them this sum, without further loss of time. He 
went to see Turchi concerning this, and told him 
he could not settle accounts with his brothers 
until Simone paid him back the moneys lent to 
him when in Antwerp, as stated in the note of 
hand which he held. Turchi made what excuses 
he could, seeking to avoid payment by postponing 
it from day to day. Meantime the brothers har- 
assed Geronimo, bidding him give no heed to 
Turchi's plausible tales; and thus the matter went 
on until it came before the court, when the bills 
were produced, and Simone was arrested by the 
sergeants and put in prison, whence he could not 
come out until he had paid his debt. 

To Turchi this seemed a most grievous injury; 
and in his heart there sprang up a fierce, implac- 
able hatred towards Geronimo, albeit of this he 
gave no outward sign. But he never ceased to 


plot and plan some way or means by which, to 
Deodati's infinite hurt, he might have his revenge. 
After a time they both returned to Antwerp, 
though not in company; and, as this quarrel had 
now begun between them, the old intimacy ceased, 
though they both courted Madam Verné as assi- 
duously as ever. 

One day when many people were present, the 
table turned upon Simone and his affairs, when 
Geronimo sneeringly remarked that he failed to 
see what Turchi could do in Antwerp, unless it 
were to turn broker (we Italians call it sensale), 
for he could do no business on his own account, 
having neither money nor credit. This speech, 
acting like oil flung upon flaming coals, greatly 
served to increase Turchi's hatred for Geronimo, 
which now became deeper and more bitter, although 
he kept it hidden. A Grecian sage once said that 
if one could look into the heart of man and note 
the whirl of fancies in his mind when wrathful 
and wholly bent upon cruel revenge, it would 
seem just as if one saw a jar brimful of water, 
which turbulently boils and seethes upon the 
flames of a fierce fire. In a like way was the 
mind of Turchi troubled, and he imagined first 


one thing, then another in his anger, all his 
thoughts being set upon the death and ruin of 
Deodati. Yet, like his namesake, he masked his 
mad and measureless desire to do evil, saying 
merely that Geronimo was mistaken, as he was 
very well able to do business on his own account. 

Meanwhile, the two merchants with many others 
persevered in their attentions to the fair Madam 
Verné, and by degrees began to be reconciled, so 
that at last they seemed to have become good 
friends. Openly, at any rate, the lady showed 
greater preference for Turchi than for the others, 
perhaps because he pleased her, or because, when 
he had it, he spent large sums upon her. In 
truth he used to spend money recklessly — far 
more recklessly than befitted a person of his 

Some thought that Simone enjoyed her favours, 
for people are always more ready to believe bad 
than good, though what I myself heard about 
this in Antwerp was the mere gossip of suspi- 
cious, envious folk. 

However that might have been, Turchi man- 
aged to talk the lady over and persuade her to 
sell a part of her property and put the money 


in a bank, pointing out what a great profit she 
would derive from this. She let herself be thus 
counselled, and after selling her property for four 
or five thousand scudi, she placed the whole sum 
in Turchi's hands. When he got this good sum 
of money, Simone went into partnership with 
Vincenzo Castrucci of Lucca, and started business, 
but, the better to pay court to Madam Verné, he 
left the care of the bank to Giuseppe Turchi, his 
nephew. The partnership lasted about three 
years, and upon the death of Castrucci it was 
dissolved. As seemingly at that time Simone 
was good friends with Deodati, again he asked 
him, not long after, to lend him three thousand 
crowns for Spain, which Geronimo, in his good- 
natured, happy-go-lucky way, was very willing 
to do, being duly repaid at the time fixed. In 
this way Turchi joined partnership with the Gigli 
of Lucca, who had a bank at Antwerp. 

Geronimo was daily expecting his wife to 
arrive from Lucca, the daughter of Gian Ber- 
nadini, a noble of that city. But still he went 
to visit Madam Verné every day, who always 
gave him hearty welcome, treating him as a 
friend, not as a suitor, now that she knew that 


he had taken a wife. She had no small suspicion 
that Turchi's affairs were going far from well, 
as she noticed that he neglected his business ; 
and she had great fears for the money with 
which she had entrusted him for trading purposes. 
As from several Lucchese merchants and others 
she received warnings about this, for several 
days she remained uncertain whether to speak to 
Simone on the subject or not. 

At length she resolved to mention the matter 
to Deodati, seek his advice, and ask him to tell 
her what, if in her position, he would do. So, 
one day, in the course of a long private talk 
with him, she explained all, when Geronimo thus 
answered, " Lady mine, since you do me the 
favour of asking my opinion as regards this 
urgent matter of yours, methinks I should be com- 
mitting a grievous error if, as your ever loyal 
and faithful servant, I did not truly tell you 
what I believe your interests require, and what, 
in your stead, I myself should do. You tell me 
that many of my countrymen and others have 
advised you to make sure of the money entrusted 
to Turchi. I am certainly of the same opinion, 
and the sooner you do this the better. There- 


fore I advise you to do one of two things ; either 
let the money be paid back to you, or get an 
acknowledgment of the whole debt plus the in- 
terest thereon from the Gigli, who as merchants 
are loyal, honourable men." 

This wise counsel greatly pleased Madam Verné, 
and she decided to act upon it, so when there 
was an opportunity she told Simone of her wish 
to recover the money, saying that she had been 
advised to do so by several merchants, and chiefly 
by those of Lucca. As some allege, she mentioned 
Deodati's name among others. In truth, it is a 
great mistake ever to tell a woman anything that 
should be kept secret, for as a matter of fact few 
of them can hold their tongue where silence does 
not seem to them advantageous. This is why 
Cato the Censor used to say that nothing vexed 
him more than to have told a woman of something 
which ought to have been kept a secret. We 
know that women as a rule are ambitious, and 
are convinced that they know a great deal more 
than they really do, being all desirous to be 
thought great rulers. Many a time they assert 
that if they but held the reins they could govern 
a state far better than any man. Nor am I dis- 


inclined to think that they speak truth, when one 
sees so many incapable, witless men, who have 
the conduct of important matters — fellows who 
are not worth the very water wherewith they 
wash their hands. However, I am not minded 
to blame either men or women, for my mother 
was a woman, and I was born a man. Suffice 
it now to say, that Geronimo did far from wisely 
to speak ill of Turchi to Madam Verné, as, unless 
he was careless, unbusiness-like, and untrustworthy, 
there was no cause for advising Madam Verné to 
take the money out of his hands. The lady, on 
the other hand, did worse still to tell Turchi who 
her adviser had been. She might very well have 
said that certain merchants, men of standing, had 
advised her to secure her capital, without mention- 
ing any names. 

I wished to tell you all this to show that 
Turchi, who considered himself wronged by being 
imprisoned at Lucca, and also by being referred 
to as a broker by Geronimo, had inwardly deter- 
mined to have his revenge, though apparently 
they were reconciled. The loan of the three thou- 
sand scudi for Spain had in a way sweetened the 
bitterness of the old hatred; in fact, as Simone 


himself confessed when about to be burned, it 
was well-nigh extinct. This last insult, however, 
which he considered most outrageous, served to 
rekindle the half- quenched flames of the old 
enmity, so that Turchi resolved to sweep Gero- 
nimo from his sight, no matter what should befall. 
He was the more determined to do this because 
some days before, when out at night, he had re- 
ceived an ugly blow in the face from an enemy of 
his ; and he believed Geronimo to have wounded 
him thus. But he was greatly mistaken, as the 
sequel of events will show. 

You must know that Simone was a man of 
very evil disposition and wicked habits, with the 
most biting, venomous tongue conceivable. In 
the art of sowing discord between friends he was 
unrivalled, laying his traps so cunningly that false- 
hoods wore the guise of truth. To sum up, he 
was a very sink of all that is malignant and 
vicious, and whereas each of us should grieve 
at the misfortune of our fellow-man, while rejoic- 
ing at his welfare, Simone did exactly the reverse. 
He was wont to praise the barbarous cruelties 
of certain tyrants, and sought to learn how he 
himself might imitate these; while his favourite 


saying used to be, that of all sweet things in the 

world revenge was the sweetest. 

As thus this wicked notion of revenge had got 

into his head, he determined to slay Geronimo, 

and moreover to do him to death in such a way 

that men hereafter should call the manner of his 

taking-off to mind. Above all, it should be a 

revenge that could not bring him hurt at the 

hands of justice, although every one would be 

morally certain that the deed was his. At first 

he thought of poison, but then abandoned this 

idea, as it seemed to him impossible to procure 

any without detection. So he determined that 

steel should do the work. Being gouty and weak 

of arm and hand, he knew that he was not strong 

enough to commit the murder himself, but that 

he must needs have an accomplice. As already 

stated, he had left the care of the bank to his 

nephew, Giuseppe, in whom he did not wish to 

confide. So he turned to one of his servants, a 

Romagnole named Giulio, and told him that he 

desired to kill Deodati, when the perfidious villain 

of a servant, being in disposition like his master, 

declared himself ready to do all. 

Knowing nothing of his evil nature, the Gigli 
vol. 1. u 


had recently given him the entire management of 
the bank, vesting him by letters with the power 
of attorney. In this capacity, therefore, Simone 
caused a document to be drawn up by a public 
notary, in which the Gigli were made to avow 
their indebtedness to Madam Verné for the sum 
which she had lent Turchi ; and, on getting this 
acknowledgment, she was satisfied. 

Now, while his desire to kill Geronimo grew 
daily stronger, it so happened that once at the 
house of Madam Verne's cousin he noticed a 
curious sort of chair. When any one sat down 
upon it the bottom at once fell in, while from 
the sides, on which one rests the arms, two great 
bars of iron shot forth out of the wood, which 
pinned the thighs of the sitter in such a way 
that he remained locked in, unable to move or 
get out of the chair, till with a special key he 
could open it. This chair Turchi borrowed, and 
caused it to be brought to a summer-house in 
a garden of his where Madam Verné and others 
often took meals with him, intending to make it 
serve his purpose when the proper time came. 

Accordingly, one day when talking to Deodati, 
he said that in his garden he had the most 


beautiful cauliflowers that had ever been seen in 
all Antwerp. Deodati asked if he could have 
some of them to plant in his grounds, when Turchi 
replied that he could come and see them when- 
ever he wished, and choose those which he liked 
best. However, Deodati forgot to go there, being 
possibly prevented by various business matters, 
so one day, rather early in the morning, Turchi 
said to him, " Geronimo, a merchant from Lyons 
has come here, who for the present does not wish 
to be known in Antwerp, so he is keeping in 
seclusion in my summer-house. He asked me to 
bring you thither, as he desires to speak to you 
about matters of the utmost importance." 

Believing this, Geronimo promised to come, and 
as soon as he had dined he went there alone. 
Not finding the merchant he asked where he was, 
and Turchi said that he had gone out on some 
business of his, but would soon return. They 
both walked up and down in the hall on the 
ground floor where the treacherous chair had been 
set. Just then the base Romagnole came in to 
say that the merchant had arrived, and as Gero- 
nimo approached the chair the wretch lifted him 
up bodily and thrust him therein. Deodati thought 


this was a joke, but no sooner had he sat down 
than he felt himself locked into the chair, a 
prisoner, and for very amazement he could not 
utter a word. Then the villain of a servant went 
out, bolting the door after him. 

As Deodati sat there helpless, like one in a 
dream, the traitorous Simone, seizing a Pistoian 
dagger which he had laid ready, came up to him 
and said, "Geronimo, I would have you remember 
the grievous injury which here and in Lucca you 
did me. But now we are not in Lucca, where 
you might put me in prison; but I have got you 
in my power, and unless you give me a paper, 
written and signed by you, of the sort that I 
have here drawn up, I will stab the life out of 
you with this dagger." 

The wretched Deodati read the paper, by which 
he was made to acknowledge himself indebted to 
Turchi for several thousand scudi, and he con- 
sented to copy it. This he accordingly did there 
and then, affixing his signature and dating it some 
months back. Many aver that the writing in 
question was of another tenor, and that in it 
Geronimo confessed to having falsely and mali- 
ciously prosecuted Turchi in Lucca, stating, more- 


over, that it was he who one night had slashed him 
across the face, so that such confession might 
seem to give Simone just cause to murder him. 
Be that as it may, when Turchi had got the 
paper he placed it in his bosom, and, drawing 
the dagger, struck at Geronimo's face with it; but 
lacking force wherewith to deal the blow, he only 
wounded him slightly on the cheek. Deodati, 
shrieking piteously, cried out, "For God's sake, 
have mercy, have mercy ! Don't kill me ! " Feel- 
ing pity for the wretched man, or else wanting 
strength to do the deed, Simone threw down the 
dagger and went out. He found Giulio the ser- 
vant waiting there, to whom he said, "I wounded 
him, but I have not got the heart to kill him. 
What shall we do?" "Do?" cried the dastardly 
Giulio. "Why, master, as we have opened the 
ball, we must needs dance. We must kill him; 
or else, if things are left like this, he will get us 
our death." "Go you, then," answered Turchi, 
"and do for him." So Giulio, who must have 
had a hand in a hundred murders besides this 
(for in his accursed Romagna they kill people in 
churches and even little babes in their cradles), 
went back to the hall, picked up the dagger, and 


approached the luckless Deodati, who, seeing him 
coming at him, blade in hand, shrieked out, "O 
Giulio ! for the love of God do not kill me, for I 
have never done you any injury. Set me free, 
and I will sign a paper giving you three thousand 
ducats, and much more if you like, while I promise 
on my honour never to harm you either by word 
or act." He was about to say more, but the 
fiendish servant dealt him a deadly blow on the 
head, following this up by several stabs in the 
chest, so that the wretched Geronimo there and 
then expired. 

When this horrible murder was done, Simone 
returned, and, unlocking the chair, with Giulio's 
help lifted out the corpse. It being too heavy for 
them to carry, they dragged it along the ground 
and buried it in a remote corner of the cellar. 
Then they went about their business, looking as 
light-hearted and happy as if they had done a 
laudable and holy deed. 

His kinsfolk waited vainly that evening for 
Geronimo to return to supper and to bed. As 
all next day he did not come, his mysterious dis- 
appearance caused a great stir and talk through- 
out Antwerp. The two chief officers of justice, 


those, I mean, of the Civil and Criminal Depart- 
ments, being cousins of Madam Verne's, were 
both on terms of intimacy with Turchi, and he 
often enjoyed their hospitality. So, two days 
after the murder, he went to the President of 
the Civil Department and took supper with him, 
in order to find out what they were saying about 
Deodati's disappearance. 

When discussing the matter and observing how 
very strange it was that no trace could be found 
.of Geronimo, Turchi remarked to his host, "My 
lord, I hope you will make every effort to track 
him," when the officer replied, " To-day in council 
we have decided to search all the houses and 
gardens situated in such and such a district, my 
garden being among these, and carefully to look 
in every place that he used to frequent." Simone 
said that this was an excellent plan, and one hour 
seemed to him as a thousand years before he 
could get away home. 

Supper being over, he made excuses for leav- 
ing the company, and on reaching home he said 
to the Romagnole, "Giulio, we shall need the 
very eyes of Argus, and must do such work to- 
night as shall save us from being caught un- 


awares to-morrow." Then he told him of what 
the officers of justice had decided in council, add- 
ing, "You know that the chair is still covered 
with blood, so now this very minute you must 
go down and wash it thoroughly, so that not the 
slightest blood-stain is left upon it. On the wall, 
too, against which the chair leant, there are 
splashes of blood, when it spirted, so you must 
also wash the wall, and wipe up any stains on 
the flooring made by the blood that dripped from 
the body as we dragged it along to the cellar. 
Do not let the faintest trace of blood be seen, for 
this proposed searching of gardens and houses 
makes me fear that they suspect something, or 
else the magistrate fancies that there has been 
foul play. So, do all this that I tell you, and 
then you must dig up the corpse, and carry it 
on your shoulders to the well where the three 
roads meet, and you must throw it in there. The 
night will be dark, and at such an hour no one 
is likely to pass that way. Thus we shall make 
matters safe for ourselves." 

Giulio replied that he would do everything 
most carefully, but to carry the corpse his nerve 
failed him; moreover, it was so heavy that, as 


Turchi would remember, they were both of them 
hardly able to drag it along and bury it. "Get 
about it," said Simone, "finish the other things 
first, and I will send that Piedmontese fellow to 
you, with orders to do exactly what you tell 
him, but when the corpse is in the well try if 
by treachery you cannot pitch the lout in after 
it. The well is a very deep one, and directly he 
fell into it he would be suffocated. If by chance 
you should be unable to do this, you know that 
he never carries a weapon of any sort, and has 
no more pluck than a rabbit. Put this Pistoian 
dagger in your belt, stab him with it, and leave 
him lying there, in the roadway. Who is there 
that would ever suppose that we had killed 
him ? " 

See, now, what an arch-villain this Turchi was, 
for, not content with having done poor Deodati 
to death in the most cruel manner, he now wished 
to kill his Piedmontese servant, who in no way 
had ever harmed him. Giulio forthwith set about 
cleaning up the whole house as bidden ; and when 
the time seemed opportune, Simone sent the Pied- 
montese down into the garden to Giulio, with 
orders to do whatever he was told. 


On knocking at the door of the pavilion and 
saying who it was, the servant was admitted by 
Giulio, who had a light in his hand, and, leading 
the way, he told the Piedmontese to follow him. 
The chair had been cleansed, and all the blood- 
stains washed out, and he had by this time well- 
nigh disinterred the corpse. On reaching the 
cellar, Giulio put the light on a bench and said, 
" Piedmontese, help me to lift this body out of 
the hole, here." "Woe's me!" cried the other, 
" what dead man is this ? " " Never you mind," 
rejoined Giulio, "help me, and don't say a word. 
I want to carry the body to the well at the cross 
roads and throw it in." The Piedmontese, a good- 
hearted, timid fellow, obeyed, for he knew what 
a murderous blackguard Giulio was. So together 
they hauled the body up out of the pit, and as 
soon as the Piedmontese saw the face and clothes 
he knew that the corpse was that of poor Deo- 
dati. This greatly amazed him, though he dared 
say nothing. They took the corpse, one by the 
heels and the other by the head, and went out 
of the garden. No sooner were they outside the 
door than, letting the body fall, the Piedmontese 
ran away as fast as ever his heels would carry him, 


so that Giulio, being taken aback, could not start 
at once in pursuit, thus the other had the advan- 
tage of him. For a good while Giulio gave chase, 
but in the darkness of the night he lost sight 
of the fugitive, and when he no longer heard his 
footfall he returned to the garden door and tried 
all he could to carry the corpse as far as the 
well. But this was impossible. So he dragged 
the body into the house, which was only about 
four yards from the gate, and, shutting this, he 
went in great chagrin and dismay to tell Simone 
what had happened. 

Turchi, at the news, was in despair, knowing 
not what to do, as he plainly foresaw his ruin; 
and Giulio thereupon said to him, "I don't know 
where that cowardly Piedmontese is gone, but 
as he saw me dig up Geronimo's body, which 
doubtless he recognised, my life is now in danger. 
It seems to me that I ought to get away, for if 
he denounces me, and I have fled, while you stay 
here, it will clearly show that it is not you but 
I who am guilty of Geronimo's death." Such ad- 
vice seemed to Simone sound ; and he gave Giulio 
all the money he had in his purse, besides two 
gold chains which happened to be in his pocket, 


and which weighed about thirty-three scudi apiece. 
Moreover, he promised always to furnish him with 
money wherever he went. So, as soon as the 
gates were opened, Giulio left the city and set 
out towards Aix. 

The Piedmontese wandered about, here and 
there, all night long, thinking what he should do, 
while Simone his master, tortured by a thousand 
fears, was unable to sleep a wink. More than 
once he resolved to escape as soon as daylight 
came, but then he reflected that this might cause 
grave suspicion to fall on him concerning the 
crime; and, as Giulio had gone, he deemed it 
safer to stay. At daybreak the Piedmontese went 
to Geronimo's kinsfolk and told them what had 
occurred; Simone, in some way or another, at 
once got to know of this, when he went straight 
to the house of the chief criminal officer and 
stated how he had heard that Giulio, his servant, 
had killed Deodati and had fled. Upon getting 
this information, the officer went to consult an 
uncle of his who had great legal experience, and 
who had given up to him the post of criminal 
officer. The old man asked if he had detained 
Turchi, and, on being answered in the negative, 


he sharply censured the officer, and bade him arrest 
Simone at once. 

Geronimo's relations meanwhile hearing of the 
awful tragedy, had taken counsel with some of 
his friends and fellow-countrymen as to how they 
should act. In this way news of the atrocious 
murder soon got about Antwerp. The criminal 
officer forthwith summoned Turchi, who on 
arriving was ordered to remain in custody, to 
which he consented, though the officer remarked 
that his countenance changed visibly, which in- 
creased his suspicions. In his wallet Simone 
had the paper written and signed by Deodati, 
and going up to the fire which burned in the 
chimney he threw it in. The officer, seeing this, 
asked him what he was burning, when Turchi 
replied that it was merely a worthless scrap of 
paper. Geronimo's friends now arrived, bringing 
with them the Piedmontese, who, being privately 
examined by the magistrate, told everything 
exactly as it had happened. The officer bade 
the dead man's kinsfolk fear nothing, but keep a 
good heart, as all justice meet for so monstrous 
a crime should most assuredly be done. Then, 
dismissing them, he detained the Piedmontese 


and confronted him with Turchi, who could not 
deny that he had ordered the servant to go 
down into the garden pavilion and obey Giulio's 
orders, but this was because Giulio had said 
that, without help, he could not move certain 
beds and set them in order. Yet he faltered so 
much when affirming this that it greatly height- 
ened the officer's suspicions, and he ordered 
Turchi to be kept in prison, while the Pied- 
montese was to remain at the magistrate's house. 
They fetched Deodati's corpse, and Simone was 
confronted with it, in order to satisfy many folk 
who declared that if Turchi was the murderer 
the wounds would bleed afresh — a foolish idea, 
as there was no blood left in the body. Turchi, 
being asked if he could identify the corpse, said 
that he believed it to be that of Deodati, and 
the judges having met in council decided, after 
some debate, that there was not enough evidence 
to warrant the prisoner's being put to the torture 
in order to cross-examine him. So they went 
leisurely to work. 

While matters were thus delayed, Giulio, who 
had reached Aix, thought of letting Turchi know 
of his arrival, and also of getting away some of 


his clothes which were at the house of a courte- 
san, his friend. So he sent a letter announcing 
his arrival at Aix, and telling Turchi to say 
that he knew nothing whatever about Geronimo's 
death. If the corpse were found in his pavilion, 
he must declare that he firmly believed Giulio to 
be the murderer, and moreover that of this his 
flight gave manifest proof. 

Having written the letter, he sent a peasant with 
it to Antwerp, instructing him how to find Turchi. 
On reaching Antwerp the peasant, who could 
not read, forgot Turchi's name, and when making 
inquiries for him mentioned Giulio, the Romag- 
nole. As everybody in the town said that it 
was the Romagnole who had killed Deodati, a 
citizen overhearing the man took him before the 
criminal officer, with whom he was on intimate 
terms. Being questioned, the poor fellow pro- 
duced Giulio's letter, which the magistrate read, 
and then re-examined Simone, ordering him to 
be put to the torture; but, without waiting for 
this, the wretch, though he had been bold enough 
to murder Geronimo, fell to weeping like a 
whipped child, and made abject confession of 
his guilt. When all the depositions had been 


drawn up, which were subsequently ratified by 
the criminal, sentence was passed, to the effect that 
Turchi was to be burned publicly in the market- 
place of Antwerp before a slow fire. 

On hearing the very cruel death that he was to 
die, the miserable man well-nigh lost his reason, and 
in his despair knew not how to make ready for 
that end which was now so near. Accordingly, a 
Franciscan friar was sent to him, an Italian, and a 
man of great benevolence and passing eloquent. 
With our Lord God's help, he exhorted him so 
fervently to repent that the unhappy man con- 
fessed himself with the utmost contrition, and pre- 
pared to suffer death with all possible patience. 
The holy friar besought him that when, at the 
stake, he should say to him, " Simone, now is the 
time of repentance," he should answer, "E'en so, 
father." This Turchi promised to do. 

Upon the day appointed Simone was locked 
into the very chair in which Geronimo had been 
murdered, and, being placed on a cart, he was 
drawn through all the streets of Antwerp, accom- 
panied by the good friar, who comforted him. On 
reaching the market-place the chair, with Simone 
locked therein, was set down, and the ministers 


of justice proceeded to light a slow fire round 
about it, which they gradually fed with fagots 
when necessary, being careful not to let the flames 
become too fierce, so that for his greater torment 
the wretched Turchi might be slowly roasted. 
The friar, standing as close as the heat of the 
fire allowed, kept repeating, "Simone, now is the 
fruitful time of repentance," to which the wretched 
man, while his power of speech remained, would 
answer, " Ay, father, ay, father." 

So far as one could judge by his gestures, the 
unhappy culprit showed the utmost patience and 
contrition, meeting his cruel and shameful death 
without a murmur. When they knew that he was 
dead, before the flames had totally disfigured it, 
they took his half-burnt body and carried it out- 
side the city, where they chained it with iron 
chains to a high stake, girding to his belt the 
Pistoian dagger with which Deodati had been 
slain. They then set up the stake in the ground, 
in the middle of the main road, so that all might 
see how shameful had been the death of so cruel 
a murderer. I am fain to believe that as the 
wretched Simone repented of his sins and showed 

himself ready for death, since die he must, it 
vol. 1. x 


mattered little to him what sort of death were his, 
if only this had been without shame, as it is not 
the quality of the punishment, but the cause for 
this, which makes death abominable and igno- 
minious. Virtue, in truth, can invest any sort 
of death with honour, whereas death, of whatever 
kind it be, may never avail to put on virtue any 

While the peasant bringing Giulio's letter was 
under arrest at the house of the magistrate, the 
justices of Antwerp sent a messenger to their 
colleagues at Aix, to claim the surrender of the 
perfidious Romagnole, so that severe punishment 
might be dealt out to him ; but the Aix authorities 
refused to give him up. Nevertheless, not to allow 
such villainy to go unpunished, they caused Giulio 
to be seized, who confessed to the murder, and 
then his arms, thighs, legs, and ribs were broken 
on the wheel to which he was afterwards bound, 
dying thus after two days' agony. 

In fine, from this tragic tale we may conclude 
that he who well considers the result of his deeds 
rarely does ill, while he who gives no thought to 
this dies, as he has lived, like a very beast of 
the field. 

BIGOLINO, the Calalrian, plays a trick 
upon the Bishop of Reggio, his master, 
by means of a certain forged bill. 

INTENDING to quit Naples and return here, I 
had to go to Reggio in Calabria, a very ancient city, 
from the sea-coast of which they say that Sicily 
was broken off by an earthquake, becoming an 
island, as now it is.* About this time in Reggio 
there was a Calabrian servant to the right reverend 
the bishop of the place, whose name was Bigolino, 
the merriest, most amusing fellow in all the country 
round about. With his voice he could imitate the 
braying of an ass, the neighing of horses, and the 
cries of this or that animal, while there were few 
birds whose voice and song he could not copy. 
As hardly a week passed but he was up to some 
funny prank or other, everybody in Reggio had 
a great liking for him, and he furnished plenty 

* Cf. Virgil, Aen. III. 417-419. 



of food for gossip. He had served divers masters 
in divers places, and had lately entered the said 
bishop's employ. Finding that he got nothing 
further for his service than his meat and drink, 
besides two suits of clothes a year, he determined 
to play his master a trick, and revealed his whole 
plan to a fellow-servant. 

Accordingly one day he went to the stable, and 
mounting a colt that the bishop had lately brought 
away from the stud, a vicious, restive brute, he 
rode out of the city to where much ground had 
been dug up in order to drain certain fields that 
were often flooded. Then he drove the colt head- 
long into the mud and soft earth that the work- 
men had thrown up, and sticking spurs into his 
flanks made him play the very devil, till at last 
both horse and rider fell splash into the mire, 
not far from where the men were digging, who, 
running thither, began to cry " Help ! help ! " 
They found Bigolino soused in mire, and motion- 
less, with blood running from his mouth, and 
thought that the horse had trampled on the poor 
wretch. So they picked him up out of the dirt, 
and, putting him on a litter, they carried him to 
the bishop's palace, to the general grief of all the 


townsfolk, who dearly, loved Bigolino, just because 
he was such a merry fellow. As they carried 
him along, every now and then he let a drop or 
two of blood fall from his mouth. 

At the sad news, the bishop was sorely troubled, 
being very fond of Bigolino, so, after placing him 
in a chamber, he sent at once for a physician. 
Bigolino's accomplice stayed with him as if to 
nurse him, and, being at times left alone with him, 
he replenished the sponge filled with blood which 
the rogue concealed in his mouth in order to 
carry out the trick. When the physician came, he 
observed the blood and looked into the patient's 
face (which with certain scents he had managed 
to make as livid as that of a corpse), and, not 
being the most expert of men, he opined that the 
poor fellow had been trampled upon by the horse, 
and that there was not a whole bone left in his 
body. Indeed, he declared that Bigolino was in 
danger of death. 

After a little while, however, he began to open 
his eyes and to draw breath, when they straight- 
way summoned a priest to shrive him. But from 
Bigolino they got nothing but certain signs which 
he made as if to show that he was troubled 


with the weight of his sins. The sowgelder* of 
a doctor had prescribed certain unguents, which 
Bigolino's companion said he had prepared, who, 
as night came on, professed himself ready to sit 
up with the patient. Soon after, my lord bishop 
came in to see Bigolino, saying to him the kindest 
and most affectionate things in the world, for, to 
tell the truth, he was mightily sorry to lose his 
jester. As the bishop was about to go, Bigolino 
motioned to him with his hands, as if he would 
say something. The bishop, stooping down ten- 
derly to him, said, "Courage, my good Bigolino, 
courage, for God will help you. Is there aught 
that you would have of me ? " The rogue nodded 
assent, and was pressed by his accomplice to say 
what he wanted, since my lord the bishop was 
ready to do anything. So the buffoon made many 
strange gestures until his confederate said, " Mon- 
signore, it seems to me that the poor fellow wants 
his doublet." "What for, I wonder? Death 
follows close at his heels, now, I reckon." 

So they fetched his doublet, and Bigolino, giving 
it to the bishop, motioned him to look at a certain 

* Castraporci, meaning that he knew more about the ailments of 
pigs than human beings. 


part of it to which he pointed. The bishop took 
it, and was about to rip it open at the place in- 
dicated, when Bigolino made signs for him to 
carry it away with him. 

Being curious to see what this might be, Mon- 
signore took the doublet to his chamber, and 
with a knife cut open the part which Bigolino 
had shown him. There he found a bank-bill, so 
perfectly forged as to seem like one issued by 
Spinelli's bank at Naples, by which bill the said 
bank pledged itself to pay the bearer, at sight, six 
hundred gold ducats, making it seem as if Bigolino 
had deposited this sum in the bank. Seeing the 
bill, my lord the bishop believed this might well 
be, and thought that Bigolino had probably saved 
up this money when in Naples, as the date of the 
paper agreed with that of his residence there. In 
fact, it seemed more than likely, as the bishop 
knew that Bigolino had received many presents 
from the Viceroy and the nobles, as well as many 
gold ducats, for all his pleasant tomfooleries. So 
he said to himself, "Of a truth, Bigolino is not 
such a fool, after all, as they make out; he has 
known how to look after himself mighty well." 
Though from the income of his bishopric, as also 


from many other revenues, Monsignore was very- 
wealthy, he was, nevertheless, extremely avaricious; 
so he persuaded himself that Bigolino had given 
him the bill so that the money should come to 
him. Accordingly, he put it carefully away. 

In the meantime, when every one was abed, 
Bigolino took supper at his ease, his friend wait- 
ing upon him, and afterwards he slept until well 
past midnight. Then his companion brought a 
basin full of blood, and, having smeared the 
patient's face therewith, he poured it all over the 
bed, calling out loudly that Bigolino was about to 
die. In came the chaplain, primed with prayers 
and blessings such as they use for the dying, 
while others stood round the bed, to watch poor 
Bigolino writhing in his death agony. At last 
he lay still, and they all believed him to be dead, 
seeing the great quantity of blood which, ap- 
parently, he had vomited, and noting the ghastly 
pallor of his face. Then, bringing water, his 
trusty friend proceeded to wash the corpse, re- 
fusing help from any one. So at this work the 
two were left alone; and the patient, after being 
washed, was duly wrapped in a shroud. 

It was now close upon daybreak; and Monsig- 


nore, hearing the sad news, was sorry to have 
lost Bigolino, but yet delighted to have got his 
six hundred ducats. Soon the confederate came 
in, saying, "Monsignore, I have laid out my poor 
friend, who is so disfigured by the horse's kicks 
as to be hardly recognisable. Indeed, from inward 
rottenness he stinks already, so I have wrapped 
him in a sheet. It would be well if the burial 
could soon take place." And the bishop answered, 
" I wish every honour to be shown him, and all 
the priests and friars of the city shall be bidden 
to the funeral." Then, giving orders to a servant 
at hand, he arranged that the ceremony should 
cost over thirty ducats. 

In order that no one might go near to touch 
Bigolino, the accomplice had wrapped a piece of 
carrion in the shroud, and this stank horribly. 
Shortly before dinner-time all the people and the 
clergy arrived to go with Bigolino to his grave, 
everybody greatly mourning his loss. Having 
been placed on the bier, the body was borne in 
procession through the city, and then brought back 
to the bishop's palace, as it was to be buried in 
the cathedral. Most solemn was this ceremony, 
my lord bishop himself chanting the mass for the 


dead. Yet the stench was such that no one ven- 
tured too near the coffin, in which Bigolino was 
like to explode with laughter as he waited for the 
end of the whole comedy. 

The mass being over, when the office for the 
dead had been chanted, the gravediggers carried 
the coffin to the tomb, from which the stone had 
already been removed. One of the men noticed 
that the cloth which covered Bigolino's face moved 
slightly, so he said to his mate, " Comrade, don't 
you see that this fellow is not dead ? Look how 
his breath moves the sheet." But the other grave- 
digger, though he saw well enough that the sheet 
stirred every now and then, replied, "Hold your 
tongue, you stupid fool, and don't talk rubbish. 
The money for this has already been expended, 
and the fellow 's broken all his bones in such a 
way that he can't be alive. Leave it to me and 
pitch him in ; see, you catch hold of his heels, and 
I'll take his head. Pah ! can't you smell how he 
stinks! Now for it!" 

At this, Bigolino said to himself, " 'Swounds ! 
but the mongrels are in earnest while I am in 
sport. But they will soon find out their mistake." 
And just as one was saying to the other, "You 


take his heels while I take his head," our bonny 
Bigolino, freeing himself from the winding-sheet, 
calls out, " You won't get me yet awhile ! " and, 
giving the shroud a violent jerk, he jumps out of 
the coffin, howling, and making the most fearful 
and hideous noises in the world. This put all the 
people to flight; priests and friars scampered off 
helter-skelter, dropping their crosses as they ran. 

When he saw that all had taken to their heels, 
while the panic-stricken females screamed aloud 
for mercy, he wrapped his winding-sheet about 
him, and, picking up one of the crosses, began to 
imitate the Donkey's Chant,* and to chase the 
fugitives, some of whom, having recovered from 
their fright, now saw that it was one of Bigo- 
lino's usual pranks, and the whole thing ended 
in laughter. Monsignore was not so glad to have 
got back his buffoon alive as he was sorry for 
all the expense to which he had been put. And 
when Bigolino, still wrapped in the sheet and 
followed by a crowd, came up, the prelate cried, 
" Ah ! you've played me a nice game, a fine trick, 
in very truth, mad fool that you are ! " " Oh, 

* Fare il verso di messer l'asino, which probably means that he 
burlesqued the bishop's intoning. 


most reverend sir," quoth Bigolino, " pardon me, 
but you don't quite understand. I wanted to let 
the tapers burn for me now, as when I really 
am dead perhaps there will be no one to light 
a candle for the peace of my soul, as everybody 
cannot read bankers' bills." Then, after some 
more pretty fooling, he said, " Monsignore, let's 
go and dine, as I am sinking for want of food." 
All that day he walked about the city wrapped 
in his sheet, to the exceeding merriment of 
everybody. Moreover, my lord bishop had to pay 
for all the expense incurred, knowing the bill to 
be forged. 

GALEAZZO carries off a damsel from 
Padua, and then through jealousy kills 
loth her and himself. 

A.T the time of that wise yet ill-starred prince 
Lodovico Sforza, there lived in a city of this 
duchy* a merchant of great wealth and great 
credit among his peers, who had taken to wife 
a young gentlewoman, well-mannered and sweet 
of temper, by whom he had one only child, 
a son. The boy had not reached the age of 
ten when his father died, leaving him in his 
mother's charge as heir to all the property. 
Being desirous that her son should keep close 
to the noble traditions of her ancestors, the mother 
would not have him put his hand to trade, but 
she brought him up most carefully in the study 
of letters and in those other exercises that go 
to the making of a thorough gentleman, while 
doing all she could meanwhile to complete her 
* The duchy of Milan. 



husband's outstanding negotiations with various 
houses of business in Flanders, Italy, France, 
Spain, and even in Syria, her intention being 
to buy property for her son, whose name was 

He grew up to be a gallant youth, courteous 
and full of spirit, with a taste not only for letters, 
but for music, riding, wrestling, tilting, and the 
like. This greatly delighted his mother, and she 
provided him most liberally with clothes, money, 
and horses, letting him want for nothing that 
should please him. In a few years she had paid 
off all her husband's debts, and had recovered 
such moneys as were due to him from other 
merchants, with the exception of one account 
against a Venetian gentleman who traded in Syria, 
and, at the time when Galeazzo was about sixteen 
or seventeen years old, had returned to Venice. 

Being wishful, as lads are, to see new countries, 
and particularly the famous and honoured city of 
Venice, he begged his mother to let him go 
thither. She, so far from being displeased at 
his wish, encouraged him to go, desiring him to 
settle the account still open with the Venetian 
gentleman aforesaid. So she sent him with her 


bailiff, a man of experience, commending him, 
moreover, to the care of one of the merchants 
in Venice who was a great friend of the family. 
Galeazzo accordingly set out, most properly 
equipped with clothes and servants. 

On reaching Venice, he presented himself to 
his father's friend, who gladly welcomed him. 
They then went together to see the Venetian 
gentleman, who, on learning who Galeazzo was, 
and the cause of his coming, said, " My dear 
son, be welcome. It is true that, on working 
out my accounts, I find I am your debtor to the 
amount you state, and as calculated by your man 
of business. If I have not sooner settled this 
debt, at least by letters, it is because I only 
arrived here three days ago with the galleys 
from Syria. Now I am ready to satisfy you, 
but you will have to wait about eight or ten 
days, until I can go to Padua, where I have my 
wife and all my family." Galeazzo said that he 
was quite willing to wait, and would spend the 
time in seeing all the sights of Venice, which he 
did. Then they went to Padua together, and 
there was nothing for it but Galeazzo must lodge 
with the Venetian, to whose house he accord- 


ingly went, taking only a page as escort, the 
other serving-folk being sent to an inn. Having 
himself been an honoured guest of the young 
man's father, the Venetian sought to entertain 
Galeazzo to the very best of his power. 

He had a daughter, fifteen years old, and pass- 
ing fair. Galeazzo, who saw the girl constantly 
every day, and who had never yet known what 
sort of thing love was, grew deeply enamoured 
of her. As the lad pleased her, she did not 
avoid love's dart, but, aware of his passion, 
returned it a thousandfold; and matters reached 
such a pass, that they soon managed to make 
the following plan : Her father was to pay over 
all the money to Galeazzo within three days and 
then return with him to Venice, where he had 
to stay for a while. Two days after his depar- 
ture, the damsel was to flee from home, in charge 
of Galeazzo's trusted servant, whom he pretended 
he was sending to his mother. In fact, the Vene- 
tian had despatched letters to her by him, but the 
good servant remained in hiding at Padua until 
the time fixed for flight. 

Having got the money, Galeazzo went back with 
his host to Venice, and, acting on his advice. 


had the whole sum remitted to Milan by bills of 
exchange. In fact, he did nothing, and bought 
nothing, without first consulting him. All at once, 
the Venetian gets news of his daughter's flight 
from Padua, and of their being unable to find 
any trace of her whereabouts. Grieved beyond 
measure, the good man determined to leave every- 
thing and return to Padua. Feigning to share in 
his sorrow at such misfortune, Galeazzo offered to 
go with him, and indeed to accompany him where- 
ever he wished. The Venetian thanked him for 
his offer, and departed; but, hearing nothing of 
Lucrezia, his missing daughter, he came back to 
Venice to find Galeazzo still there. Soon after- 
wards, the young man returned to his home in 
Lombardy, never daring to say a word to his 
mother about the girl that he had carried off. 

The servant had, meantime, hired a suitable 
house, furnishing this as his master had in- 
structed him, Galeazzo's nurse and her husband 
being put there as guardians to the girl. And 
here, to the marvellous pleasure of both con- 
cerned, Galeazzo culled of his Lucrezia the virgin 
flower and fruit. More did he love her than his 

very life, passing almost every night in her com- 



pany, and spending large sums to procure her 

Though Galeazzo's mother knew that he often 
supped and slept away from home, she said 
nothing, and for nearly three years the lovers led 
as joyous and merry a life as well might be. 
Then it so chanced that the mother thought of 
finding a wife for her son, but to this proposal 
he would never consent. She suspected that he 
was probably enamoured of some other fair one, 
or that perhaps he had taken a wife after his 
own fashion ; therefore she surrounded him with 
so many spies, that she soon got to know of all 
that he had done at Padua. The news greatly 
annoyed her; and one evening, when Galeazzo 
was supping with his cousin, she contrived to 
have Lucrezia carried off by three masked men, 
and placed in a nunnery that very night. Having 
finished supper, Galeazzo was for going to sleep 
with his mistress, when the nurse and her husband 
told him, between their sobs, that Lucrezia had 
been gagged by three masked men, who had 
carried her off. He was like to die of grief at 
the news, and all night long he wept bitterly. 

Early in the morning he went to his mother's 


house, and locked himself up in his room, re- 
maining all day without food. During that time 
his mother made no inquiry as to her son, but 
on the following day, seeing that he would not 
dine, she went to him in his chamber, when he 
begged her to leave him alone in peace. She 
asked to know the cause for his grief, but he 
only answered her with sighs and tears. There- 
upon, being touched to pity, she spoke as follows : 
" Dear son of mine, I could never have believed 
that you would hide aught from me in this world, 
but thought that you would have shown me all 
your troubles. However, I find myself much mis- 
taken. Yet, thanks to my watchfulness, I have 
found out the cause of your sorrow. I know that 
you love Lucrezia, whom you carried off from her 
father's house in Padua. If that was a gallant 
deed, I leave you to consider, but the time has 
now come for help, not for punishment. Take 
heart of grace, and see to it that you recover your 
health and well-being. Lucrezia shall be yours 
again. I had her lodged in a monastery, thinking 
that if you found her not you would please me 
by taking a wife, as you ought to do." 

Hearing this, Galeazzo seemed to be called back 


from death to life, and with shame he confessed 
to his mother that he loved Lucrezia far more 
than his own life, beseeching her to let the girl 
be brought to him forthwith. She urged him to 
have patience just for that day, and sought to 
revive him with food and drink, promising to fetch 
the girl to him on the morrow. 

What shall we say ? At this simple promise, 
Galeazzo, who but now was like to die, having 
lost sleep and appetite through grief, became 
wholly comforted. He dined; and, when evening 
came, took supper, while the hope of regaining 
his Lucrezia gave him a calm restful night. 

No sooner had he risen next day than he be- 
sought his mother to send for Lucrezia, so, to 
please her son, she drove in a little cart to the 
monastery and brought the girl away with her. 
When the two lovers met, they flung their arms 
about each other's necks, and in a close embrace 
shed hot salt tears for very joy. After countless 
kisses and endearments, Galeazzo, still weeping, 
asked Lucrezia, "Say, sweetheart, how did you 
do without me ? What sort of life was yours ? 
Did it not grieve you sore never to see me all 
this while? In truth, I thought I should die, 


nor can I rightly tell why still I live. Ah ! life 
of my life, who shall assure me that others, in 
this time of your absence from me, have not en- 
joyed your beauty? Jealousy is like to kill me, 
and my very heart is broken within my body. 
As then, O heart of mine, we may but die once, 
and escape this dire trouble, it is far better that 
we die together, and end all these our doubts at 
a single blow." So saying, he took a dagger 
from his belt, and stabbed the girl to the heart, 
so that she straightway fell down dead. Then 
he turned the bloody steel against himself, and, 
plunging it into his breast, sank down at Lucre- 
zia's side. 

Great was the noise of weeping in that house, 
and the hapless mother's desperate lamentations 
rent the sky. All that day Galeazzo lingered ; 
and, when the sun went down, he died. Deaf 
to all comfortings, the mother passionately be- 
wailed her dear dead son ; indeed, she merited 
great pity and compassion, for her story might 
e'en draw tears from stones, to say nothing of you, 
gentle, tender-hearted ladies, whose beauteous eyes, 
as I see, are filled with tears. To keep matters 
hidden, the lovers were buried secretly, it being 


given out that they had died of the plague, for 
at that time there was some suspicion of that 
disease in Milan, and, moreover, the doctors took 
bribes to declare this to be so. Yet they could not 
conceal the facts so closely but that in time they 
were completely known. Who, then, shall deny 
that jealousy is a noisome reptile which blinds 
men's eyes, if in sooth this of Galeazzo's was 
jealousy, and not rather madness and fury ? 

Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co. 
Edinburgh and London